Some facts on speed
Letters to the Editor - Sydney Morning HeraldMonday 9 February 2004
|Last May, Media Watch claimed that a group known as the National Motorists Association of Australia had rigged a Herald online poll which asked: "What do you think the speed limit in residential/built-up areas should be?" Yet in Peter McKay's column ("Road Rave", Herald, January 24-25), the NMAA was quoted, along with some spurious statistics.
The columnist stated: "It's probably too early to gauge the effect of the 50kmh speed limits on road safety." Wrong. Victoria was the first state to introduce a default 50kmh speed limit. In those areas, in 2003, the pedestrian road toll fell a staggering 40-46 per cent in serious and fatal crashes. Similarly, significant reductions in road trauma have also been experienced in NSW.
Then Mr McKay said: "Meanwhile, in South Australia, where 50kmh has been in place since last March, the fatality rate in the metropolitan area has jumped more than 42 per cent." Untrue. In the areas where the new 50kmh zones are in place, there were no additional fatalities.
And finally he added: "The NMAA says that, according to the State Government's statistics covering the past eight years, speeding was a primary factor in less than 1 per cent of all crashes." Nonsense. While Mr McKay did not state which state government, we contacted senior road safety officers in NSW, Victoria and SA, who all agreed that excessive speed was a primary factor in at least 20 per cent of fatal crashes and that general speeding an important factor in more than 50 per cent of road crashes.
Speed kills - full stop.
Pedestrian Council of Australia,
Jury still out
Sydney Morning Herald Drive - ROAD RAVESaturday 24 January 2004
It's probably too early to gauge the effect of the 50kmh speed limits on road safety. In a few years' time, we'll be in a better position to judge if lives have been saved. Meanwhile, in South Australia, where 50kmh has been in place since last March, the fatality rate in the metropolitan area has jumped more than 42 per cent. For each advocate of the lower limit, there are critics. The introduction of the 50kmh limit, says the National Motorists Association of Australia, was based on emotion, ideology and unfounded statistical theory and not on sound traffic engineering principles. It believes that the task of setting appropriate speed limits is for suitably qualified traffic engineers, "not politicians nor academics with PhDs in statistics". The NMAA says that, according to the state government's statistics covering the past eight years, speeding was a primary factor in less than 1 per cent of all crashes, yet most of the valuable resources of police manpower and advertising expenditure are directed at speed.
Online polls :: 23/06/2003
|That's not our only concern by any means.
We're also worried about the Herald's on-line opinion polls. Indeed everyone's website polls are looking very suss these days.
In May the Herald reported looming new speed limits for New South Wales.
Make that 50: brakes on the burbs
A new 50 kmh speed limit, to come into force on November received almost universal praise yesterday from motorist and pedestrian groups.
- The Sydney Morning Herald, 8 May 2003 - Take a look »
The paper asked readers to go online and have their say:
Poll: 50kmh Speed Limit
What do you think the speed limit in residential/built-up areas should be?
- The Sydney Morning Herald web site, 8 May 2003 - Take a look »
Quoted in the original article was the National Motorists Association of Australia, a lobby group opposed to the reduced speed limit. But someone wanted more, and step by step instructions for ramping the poll appeared on an NMAA message board.
How to vote: remove all cookies in your system if you have voted b4.
- NMAA voting instructions
There followed directions for wiping these electronic codes that are supposed to work like indelible ink on a voter's thumb to prevent multiple voting.
OK, now close browser.
Click on the [poll] link.
Click No on all popups.
Repeat ad nauseum.
Go hard guys.
- NMAA voting instructions
The result was a big win for the top speed, 60kmh.
NMAA member and Herald reader Bill Gemmell* alerted the Herald website to the swizzle and asked
How can a serious news organisation report the views of a group that cynically exploits such polls?
- Bill Gemmell letter to The Sydney Morning Herald, 8 May 2003
Gemmell's letter was neither published nor acknowledged and the Herald has kept the poll result up on its website. Mike van Niekerk, the managing editor of smh.com.au, told Media Watch that even with the cookies deleted there is an additional layer of security that detects any attempt by an individual or a computer script to [vote] more than a few times and then blocking them from voting again.
- Mike van Niekerk statement to Media Watch
We're not so sure. The crew at ABC Information Technology spent some time last week following the NMAA instructions and concluded that it could allow multiple voting in Sydney Morning Herald polls.
- ABC Information Technology team statement to Media Watch
*Correction: Bill Gemmell is not a member of the National Motorists Association of Australia. He is a visitor on the NMAA messageboard group where the instructions were posted. The NMAA would also like us to make clear that although those instructions were posted by an NMAA member, the NMAA disapproves of any attempt to rig polls by its members or anyone else.
#Our apologies to Rob Oakeshott, the state member for Port Macquarie. He is a former National but now an independent.
Sydney Morning Herald - LettersTuesday 10 February 2004
|Pedestrian Harold Scruby (Letters, February 9) needs to add "excessive" to his "Speed kills - full stop" certainties. It is one of many factors, including road conditions, age of driver, experience of driver and so on, combining to produce accidents.
Within the modest confines of my small city there is a bewildering array of RTA-imposed, Scruby-influenced, revenue-raising speed limits - 40, 50, 60, 70 and 80kmh. Blink and you won't know which one you are in.
While few would disagree with the sensible imposition of limits near schools or in backstreets, for example, to force vehicles to crawl at 50kmh along safe, excellent dual carriageway, as in this city, or for interminable entries to and exits from quiet country towns needlessly impedes business, is environmentally dubious and is unlikely to save a single life.
Ron Sinclair, Bathurst, February 9.
So Harold, "Speed kills - full stop". Isn't the full stop the dangerous bit?
Ian Cutcher, Chatswood West, February 9.