The operator of an airport fire engine that ran a red light and killed three people in a crash has been ordered to pay $160,000 to the Commonwealth for breaching the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
Renowned architects Greg McNamara, his wife Lena Yali, and Kevin Taylor died when the fire truck, which was on its way to assist at a fire at Wyuna, collided with their car in Darwin in 2011.
The airport fire trucks occasionally assisted on jobs outside of the airport grounds.
Airservices Australia admitted fault in 2013 during a coronial inquest, and conceded the training provided to drivers was not adequate.
But the legal battles have continued, as federal workplace safety organisation Comcare launched additional action against Airservices Australia earlier this year.
They argued it breached the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
The main argument was that Airservices failed to give appropriate training to its employees and did not identify risks to its employees or other road users.
Justice John Reeves today handed down his judgment finding Airservices breached the act and ordered it to pay the fine.
Justice Reeves noted the “airport fire engine was much larger than the majority of other vehicles driven on public roads, and the potential for serious injury and damage if they come into collision with another vehicle or a pedestrian is obvious”.
Speed kills. Speed cameras save lives. We have heard it all before. But, two-hundred and forty-nine people people died in fatal traffic accidents on Victoria’s roads last year — a 2.5 per cent increase from 2013’s figure.
This is despite a record number of fixed and mobile speed cameras deployed on roads in Victoria, and around Australia.
For years, the governments have been claiming that speed cameras save lives and that speed is the greatest common factor in fatal car accidents.
But with road deaths on the rise, could it be that speed cameras actually don’t save lives and in fact are contributing to our road toll by breeding poor driving practises?
Since Saab introduced seat belts as standard in 1958, occupant safety has been improving every year, and the sedans, wagons, utilities and SUVs we drive today are safer than ever. And safer cars will undoubtedly go further in reducing the road toll than speed cameras.
Speed cameras certainly have their place in society, but not with the draconian enforcement of low-level speeding and covert tactics, such as hiding in bushes and unmarked mobile speed cameras, as occurs in Victoria, at least, more needs to be done.
The proof is in the numbers. People are still crashing, they are just safer doing so.
The figures show that revenue from speed cameras alone — on the spot police fines are not included in this figure — in 2010 was around $236 million. Fast forward to 2013 and that figures jumps a whopping $57 million to $293 million. Imagine ripping almost $300 million from government coffers; speed cameras have become like a drug addiction that governments can’t help but feed off.
Included below is a graph (click here to see larger version) that shows the relationship between hospital stays shorter than 14 days, longer than 14 days, fatalities and revenue from speed cameras. The graph shows that the increase in revenue from speed cameras isn’t commensurate with a reduction in hospital stays. Hospital stays of fewer than 14 days and more than 14 days during this period trended steady.
When asked about speed cameras and levels of enforcement, a spokesperson for the Department of Justice and Regulation told CarAdvice:
“Broadly speaking the rate of people being fined by cameras is not changing, but as the population grows, so too does the number of fines issued.
“The overall number of infringements issued annually is increasing as Victoria’s population grows and there are more cars on the road.
“Over 99 per cent of vehicles passing fixed cameras and over 98 per cent of vehicles passing mobile cameras comply with the speed limit.
That’s because people know that they are there. Drivers slow down for the cameras, and then once past them, they resume their normal driving habits – Ed.
“Fixed and mobile road safety cameras reduce speeds and cut road trauma because they are placed in high-risk or high-speed areas, areas with history of road trauma, or areas that will provide a road safety benefit.
This is not always so! In 2011 a NSW review of the placement of speed cameras was carried out by the Auditor-Generals Department, and a large number of cameras, 38 in fact, were identified as being placed to interrogate the speed of a large number of passing vehicles, or where the speed limit had been reduced from a higher limit; e.g. passing from a 90kmh zone into a 70kmh zone, with no identified high risk factors or adverse trauma history – Ed.
“100 per cent of the money from camera fines is allocated to the Better Roads Victoria Trust Account. The funds from this account are used to improve road safety for all road users.”
With an enforcement focus skewed on speed, ask yourself this question: how many speed cameras did you travel through (whether it be a fixed or mobile one) in the past month? Now, ask yourself how many times were you stopped to be tested for drugs or alcohol over the same period?
Similarly, in the past 10 years, how many times did you undertake driver training to improve your skills?
The unfortunate reality of speed camera-biased enforcement can be demonstrated with the tragic death of pedestrian Anthony Parsons and husband and wife Savva and Ismini Menelaou, who were passengers in a Ford Falcon struck at the intersection of Warrigal and Dandenong roads in Oakleigh, Victoria last year.
Brazilian national Nei Lima DaCosta was high on ice and drove through one fixed speed camera at 30km/h over the speed limit minutes before careering through the intersection of Warrigal and Dandenong roads at 120km/h (40km/h over the speed limit) through another speed and red light camera. He killed three innocent people. These two cameras did nothing to help save the lives of three innocent people.
This particular example illustrates why so much more needs to be done on enforcing and dealing with poor driving, whether it be due to drugs, lack of skills or visible policing.
There seems to be a reluctance, at least in Australia for police to perform in a pro-active role. Whenever police are seen on highways, it is always in the role of enforcement, speed checking, number plate recognition activities and the like, revenue raising activities – Ed.
Speed cameras alone will never be a useful immediate enforcement or protection tool against drivers excessively speeding, or people who don’t know how to drive to start with.
Those people that use the idiom “don’t speed and you won’t get caught” simply don’t understand the reality of driving safely. If I had the preference of watching the road or my speedometer, I know which one I would choose.
What is needed is an overhaul of driver training, the proper blitzing of drink and drug driving testing, along with the removal of low level speed enforcement. Who would have an issue with being stopped twice a day for drug or alcohol testing if it meant impaired drivers were taken off the road more promptly?
We also need more transparency on where the money generated from speed cameras goes and where it should be spent.
With all the roads around NSW in such poor condition, serious doubt has to raised as just where income from fines is actually spent on – Ed.
Primarily, the Russian people have only been driving for a short time. Prior to the fall of communism in 1989, private ownership of motor vehicles was severely restricted by cost, but more importantly, to restrict the free movement of the population within the former Soviet Union. Access to motor vehicle ownership in the last 27 years has increased exponentially! What has not increased however is the skill, ability, psyche and consideration that goes with the operation of a motor vehicle. Accompanied by this, is a distinct lack of experience, discipline and courtesy needed when driving on a public road.
There also appears to be no concept of consequence in Russia. This results from a lack of lateral thinking which is not nurtured in Russian society as well as their education. So they drive like aggressively without regard for road rules believing they’re not causing any harm. Russians believe the bigger the car they drive, the safer they are. Hence why drivers of 4x4s tend to be even more aggressive then drivers of a Fiat Punto.
Russia: The only place where you can be rear-ended whilst overtaking, driving the wrong way up a one way street!
Corruption is rife in Russian which means that money can buy anything, including a driver’s licence. Russian get drivers licences with no knowledge of road rules or even the ability to drive a car! As a result there is little reason to learn the highway code. Thus everyone has their own view as to what the laws of the road really are. Continuing with corruption, if you drive like a idiot and get stopped, you can generally bribe your way our of being punished. Thus there is basically no fear of punishment which reinforces the belief that Russian drivers can behave at the wheel as they wish with impunity. Police are generally nowhere to be seen. They might occasionally pull you over nearer the centre of a city by being flagged down but a police car pulling someone over? Never! There are no cameras, except around the city centre but even if you are sent a fine, there is no system in place to actually guarantee payment of that fine. Many Russians who have been sent a fine have never paid it. So again, you can act without fear of punishment,
“There are only two types of Russians – those who give bribes and those who take them.”
So all in all, this theme finds its way into the Russian psyche. The Russians are not stupid because, if you are stupid, you still know the difference between right and wrong. 80 years of communism has lead Russians to be disillusioned and somewhat primitive. There is a big difference.
Driving in Russia is hazardous: Last year, 200,000 traffic accidents killed 27.025 people in Russia in 2013. Addressing those high levels, President Dmitry Medvedev blamed the “undisciplined, criminally careless behaviour of our drivers,” along with poor road conditions. However, Medvedev made no mention of the totally dysfunctional Russian traffic police!
Russians consistently ignore red lights, overtake on the inside, overtake on the outside when unsafe or blind, speed and couple this with little or no technical expertise or driving ability, this is a recipe for disaster!
While accepting that drivers certainly play a role, Medvedev did not mention Russia’s traffic police, which, “is known throughout their land for brutality, corruption, extortion and making an income on bribes.”
According to information published by New Times(2009), one day’s corrupt income for a traffic policeman is $1000. Everyone regards the law enforcement agencies, chiefly the police, as extortioners in uniform and it is generally recognised that a policeman’s official salary is only part of his income. Medvedev’s police reform, carried out by the police establishment itself, has failed. The overwhelming majority of Russians have no more faith in the police than they did in the Soviet past.
Russia ranks 133rd among the world’s nations in corruption (where number one is the least corrupt), according to Transparency International. So going to the police with a legitimate complaint is far from sure to produce a good result.
In addition to authorities they deem untrustworthy, Russian drivers must contend with the possibility of being attacked by another driver. The below video compiles fights between drivers that feature crowbars, slapping, punching, and worse.
Then there are pedestrians who get themselves hit by cars on purpose, for a payoff. A video compilation (below) of failed scams offers a few examples.
Overall, in a country where traffic conditions are horrible, insurance scams and roadside fights are always a possibility, and the police are widely viewed as corrupt, video evidence of one’s innocence can be a very valuable thing.
There are are number of things which also contribute to this situation:
Harsh climate. It means foggy mornings in the summer, rainy autumns, snowy winters notorious of its blizzards and ice, springs with huge lots of wet dirt.
Poor road conditions. Yes, that is no secret, that the bigger part of roads in Russia are not good. Perestroika, the crisis of 90’s and other economic problems including theft and corruption inside the Road construction department resulted in poor roads conditions
Large distances. It is much more easy and convenient to build and service roads in a small country, neither in Russia where distances between settlements sometimes can be counted in hundreds of km. Living in Siberia, one can take a ride from one city to another and not see civilisation for hours with only taiga forest around. In Australia, large distances are also an issue, but Australians do not have the poor driver behaviour as exhibited in Russia!
The Russian government did not expect people to have so many cars. The number rose dramatically over the last 25 years. In the west, the culture of proper driving was formed over a longer period, while in Russia it just boomed. The problem is much worse for big cities of 1 million citizens or more. Here we see too many cars on tiny roads and a lack of parking spaces. It makes people nervous while driving.
The other factor is culture. Russian people today haven’t learned to respect each other. And they won’t until the economic situation improves.
Vehicles and Vodka
Russia has a long history of alcohol consumption. The average Russian drinks 20 litres of pure alcohol per annum, nearly twice as much as their nearest rival. This of course carries onto the streets of Russia.
According to data, the number of drunk drivers has been steadily increasing in the past few years. In the last eight months of 2012, the number of accidents caused by drunk drivers rose by 3.5%. In that time, there were 152 alcohol related accidents in Moscow, which caused 15 deaths. And Moscow is far from being the worst city in Russia: in the Krasnoyarsk region there were 433 drunk driving accidents over the same period.
Some worry that stricter laws will mean serious punishment even for drivers who don’t drink, since Russia’s laws don’t specify a blood alcohol level at which one is considered drunk. United Russia lawmakers think that establishing specific criteria for drunk drivers is essential to the success of a stricter law. A threshold is important because human blood will always contain some alcohol, which could be detected in blood tests. Russia had an alcohol limit until 2010, but then-President Medvedev thought drivers interpreted the law to mean they could drink up to that point, and changed the law to zero-tolerance.
On the other hand, people who knowingly drink and drive might not be deterred by the new law at all. The police say people who regularly drive under the influence and accumulate suspended licenses for years simply ignore the sanctions (such as the driver in the recent accident in Moscow, whose license had been suspended in 2010 for drunk driving).
In the past two years, more than 18,000 drivers have had their license suspended for drunk driving. Among those drivers, some had been punished for drunk driving 100 times or put in administrative arrest 16 times for driving without a license. The law has no effect on this type of person, so a completely different approach is needed with them. It has been suggested that if they can’t stop themselves from drinking and driving, they need to be under the strict control of the courts and medical staff.”
The Russian Dash-Cam
In Russia, everyone should (and does) have a camera on their dashboard. It’s better than keeping a lead pipe under your seat for protection (but you might still want that lead pipe).
The conditions of Russian roads are perilous, with an insane gridlock in the city and gigantic ditches, endless swamps and severe wintry emptiness of the back roads and highways. Then there are large, lawless areas you don’t just ride into, the police with a penchant for extortion and deeply frustrated drivers who want to smash your face.
Psychopaths are abundant on Russian roads. You best not cut anyone off or undertake some other type of maneuver that might inconvenience the 200-pound, six-foot-five brawling children you see on YouTube hopping out of their SUVs with their dukes up. They will go ballistic in a snap, drive in front of you, brake suddenly, block you off, jump out and run towards your vehicle. Next thing you start getting punches in your face because your didn’t roll up your windows, or getting pulled out of the car and beaten because you didn’t lock the doors. These fights happen all the time and you can’t really press charges. Point to your broken nose or smashed windows all you want. The Russian courts don’t like verbal claims. They do, however, like to send people to jail for battery and property destruction if there’s definite video proof. That is why there’s a new, growing crop of dash-cam videos featuring would-be face-beaters backing away to the shouts of “You’re on camera, fucker! I’m calling the cops!”
Dash-cam footage is the only real way to substantiate your claims in the court of law. Forget witnesses. Hit and runs are very common and insurance companies notoriously specialize in denying claims. Two-way insurance coverage is very expensive and almost completely unavailable for vehicles over ten years old–the drivers can only get basic liability. Get into a minor or major accident and expect the other party to lie to the police or better yet, flee after rear-ending you. Since your insurance won’t pay unless the offender is found and sued, you’ll see dash-cam videos of post hit and run pursuits for plate numbers.
And sometimes drivers back up or bump their pre-dented car into yours. It used to be a mob thing, with the accident-staging specialists working in groups. After the “accident,” the offending driver–often an elderly lady–is confronted by a crowd of “witnesses,” psychologically pressured and intimidated to pay up cash on the spot. Since the Age of the Dash-cam, hustle has withered from a flourishing enterprise to a dying trade, mainly thriving in the provinces where dash-cams are less prevalent.
And then, sometimes, someone will jump under your car at a crossing, laying on the asphalt, simulating a badly hurt pedestrian waiting for that cop conveniently parked nearby. This dramatic extortion scheme was common, until the Age of the Dash-cam. Oh, and there are such juicy, triumphant tales about of would-be extortion victims turning the scheme around and telling the cast members to pay them money or they’re going to jail for this little performance! Don’t try it.
While those lucky enough to traverse the Russian roads with an American or other Western passport are hassled less, the Russian Highway Patrol is notorious throughout their land for brutality, corruption, extortion and making an income on bribes.
Russian websites go for the uncut, the horrible accidents–trucks flipping over, people being smashed into pieces and sedans flying up in the air and exploding. Given that television programing is mostly vacuous and heavily censored, dash-cam videos are very popular in Russia. It’s uncensored–drama, comedy, tragedy, horror, thriller and educational genres fused into one super-genre of “dash-cam.” Who needs Klitschko when you can watch to tough guys box in the street?
To better understand and navigate this “community service”, here’s a Russian Dash-cam Video Thesaurus for the blog tag cloud. It is comprised of purposely misspelled hick and thug slang and phrases used sarcastically…while people die. Ah, Russian humour.
поциент – “Patient.” The poor bastard, the dumb idiot in the video getting pulverized, run over or smashed into. A wordplay of “potz,” the Russian translation of the Yiddish “schmuck.”
летчик – “Pilot.” The idiot who zooms by and crashes in the grand finale of a video.
слабоумие и отвага – “Courage and dementia.”
последние секунды жизни – “Last seconds of life.” Videos featuring persons before and after fatal accidents.
кетай как всегда пиздец – “China is always fucked.” Clips from China that feature severe crashes and frequently feature passersby ignoring the bodies and car debris.
кирпичи – “Bricks” (as in “shitting bricks.”) The audio track often features the driver panting or shouting the entire Russian vocabulary of swears at the top of their lungs. Used for videos with near misses or close shaves.
железобетонное очко – “Anus of Concrete.” Honorific given to drivers who, faced with sudden danger like a huge truck coming head-on, remain calm, only saying “shoot” or “darn” quietly in the background, and efficiently steer away from danger, displaying some seriously fucking great driving skills.
наварра – The infamous video featuring a black Nissan Navarra SUV swerving to the oncoming freight liner and being smashed into a cloud of small pieces. It is the metaphor for a gruesome, intense, fatal accident.
But there are moments of humanity among the Russian people,. At a city accident scene, you could see as many as twenty cars pulling over, drivers running out to the scene. This comes from the recognition of the fact that on a 300-mile stretch of uninhabited territory, help can only come from passing vehicles and not emergency services. Most Russian long-distance routes East of the Ural Mountains are that way. There is really only one highway like that in North America: the Western Canadian to Alaskan Stretch of the Pan-American Highway. The camaraderie between strangers, shoveling the snow and hailing a freight truck or tractor to pull the car out. The kudos. The cheers. The knowledge that you could be very well be next.
And don’t you forget it. Aside from the kindness of strangers, it’s just you and that little gadget versus the hell that is the Russian people on the road.
The Forth Road Bridge is to remain shut until the new year after faults were discovered in its steel work, Scotland’s Transport Minister Derek Mackay has said.
The decision to close the bridge was taken by the Scottish Government after inspections carried out by specialist engineers and following advice and
assessment of the fault by independent experts.
Work is already under way to repair the crossing and it is expected to be reopened to traffic in January.
The complete closure of the bridge came into force at midnight, with major tailbacks experienced on diversion routes at rush hour.
Mr MacKay said the decision was “not taken lightly”, and steps are being taken to lessen the impact of the closure.
The problem was first identified during a routine inspection on Tuesday.
Traffic was restricted that evening but it was later decided that the bridge should be closed entirely.
Additional rail, ferry and park-and-ride facilities are to be put in place.
Emergency service vehicles will still be able to use the bridge when responding to calls.
Engineers said a 20mm crack in a truss under the southbound carriageway close to the bridge’s north tower could not have been predicted and happened quickly.
Continuing to allow traffic to use the bridge would “increase the risk of causing extensive secondary damage to the structure”.
Mr Mackay said: “Every effort is being made to open the bridge as quickly as possible but safety is the main priority, however these works are weather dependent given the height and location of the bridge.
“We are aware of the potential economic impact, for strategic traffic in the east of Scotland and on people living in local communities.
“This is an unprecedented challenge in the maintenance of the Forth Road Bridge. On balance following advice from engineers and independent experts, the full closure is essential for the safety of the travelling public and to prevent further damage to the structure of the bridge.
“The bridge operators Amey have a robust inspection team in place and these defects are problems that have only occurred in the last number of weeks.
“We are taking every step we can to lessen the impact of this closure. Action now will mean that any closure is much shorter than it might be if we waited.”
Chartered engineer Mark Arndt, from Amey, said: “This is a complex engineering challenge. The component failure is in a difficult-to-access location and our response is also highly dependent on weather conditions.
“We continue to work around the clock on inspections, assessments and calculations along with the development of designs to effect the necessary repairs, while at the same time mobilising all the resources required to reopen the bridge as soon as is possible.”
Consider the above Youtube video. A car passes a cyclist, the cyclist thinks he is too close and decides to pursue the car driver!
I think the cyclist is the road rager here! He actively pursed the car driver through numerous streets through town before catching up with him. The cyclist nearly collides with pedestrians during the pursuit! He deserves being verballed. How much room did the cyclist think he needed and how much room was actually available? Camera wearing cyclists, contrary to their belief, do not own the roads! I know who the Old Bill would be charging. It wont be the car driver!
What do you think?
And it’s not the first time that this camera toting cyclist has had “incidents” with car drivers!
George Brown is a decorated soldier and health professional and 40 year veteran in the field of emergency nursing and paramedical practice, both military and civilian areas. He has senior management positions in the delivery of paramedical services. Opinions expressed in these columns are solely those of the author and should not be construed as being those of any organization to which he may be connected.
He was born in the UK of Scottish ancestry from Aberdeen and a member of the Clan MacDougall. He is a member of the Macedonian community in Newcastle, and speaks fluent Macedonian. While this may seem a contradiction, it is his wife who is Macedonian, and as a result he embraced the Macedonian language and the Orthodox faith.
His interests include aviation and digital photography, and he always enjoys the opportunity to combine the two. Navigate to his Flickr site to see recent additions to his photo library.
Џорџ Браун е украсени војник и професионално здравствено лице и 40 годишен ветеран во областа на за итни случаи старечки и парамедицински пракса, двете воени и цивилни области. Тој има високи менаџерски позиции во испораката на парамедицински услуги. Мислењата изразени во овие колумни се исклучиво на авторот и не треба да се толкува како оние на било која организација тој може да биде поврзан.
Тој е роден во Велика Британија на шкотскиот потекло од Абердин и член на Kланот MacDougall. Тој е член на македонската заедница во Њукасл, и зборува течно македонски. Иако ова можеби изгледа контрадикција, тоа е неговата сопруга кој е македонски, и како резултат научил македонскиот јазик и ја примија православната вера.
Неговите интереси вклучуваат авијација и дигитална фотографија, и тој секогаш ужива во можност да се комбинираат двете. Отиди до неговиот Фликр сајт да видите последните дополнувања на неговата слика библиотека.