Possibly the most dangerous time of the day to be on the roads is weekdays between 8:00am – 9:00am and then between 3:00pm – 4:00pm, that’s when the family rally drivers are in their interminable rush to get their billy lids to school. Nothing is allowed to get in their way and speed limits are for suckers. So it is throughout Australia, whether it’s in the suburbs or out in rural areas such as where we live. Not only is it a dangerous time, it almost seems like insanity to be on the roads while these rally drivers are about, competing with other rally drivers that care not one iota for who or what is around them, driven only by the need to get their progeny to their various daycare centres (schools). It’s worse still if there is more than one stage to cover and they are running a few minutes late.
It really doesn’t matter what state you’re in, the situation appears to be the same everywhere. The morning school rush and speeding, especially in school zones, is common to all. Now there aren’t many statistics available as to whether men or women feature the most in school zones incidents, but what I’ve observed over the years and what’s sometimes reported in the news seems to indicate that women outnumber men when it comes to speeding in school zones (not unusual given they are more often than not the ones delivering the progeny). I’ve watched the morning rush where a people mover full of kids is driven down a dirt road like a rally car, with mum on the mobile phone negotiating the corrugations and corners with not a seeming care in the world and totally absorbed in the mobile phone conversation. Yet for some reason, when the likes of the TAC create advertisements about bad driving habits and how it can affect kids, all the ads just seem to depict men as the sole culprits.
Recently one morning I was returning from Mossvale Park and coming into a tight bend on one particular dirt road used by many of these rally drivers, when a Landcruiser (a mother at the wheel) came barrelling around the corner. I had to move as far left as possible into the storm drain and almost came to a stop to avoid a young lad walking to school on my side of the road (now totally covered in dust thanks to the Landcruiser). I never do more than 40kmh on this dirt road and slow down to a walking pace if people are about, much to the disgust of any rally driver that gets stuck behind me, but I don’t care. Firstly, as there are often people walking along this road, especially with dogs, you can never tell what happen, so you need to have some safety leeway. Secondly, I don’t like the idea of covering pedestrians in dust just because I can drive at breakneck speed (relatively speaking). Thirdly, when coming face to face with other cars, it’s kind of stupid to be traveling fast on such a narrow dirt road (or mud road in Winter). Finally, I also try to avoid creating plumes of dust that then floats into the yards of adjacent houses, covering washing etc.
Now some have no concern for how fast they drive, especially given that our area has recently been deemed residential by our South Gippsland Shire, though I still can’t fathom why the speed limits don’t reflect residential ones. I’ve written previously about some of the driving habits in our rural area, but don’t think that I’m contradicting myself. I believe that you really do need to drive appropriately for the conditions and, in this case, just because you can drive at 70kmh on this particular dirt road, it doesn’t mean that you should do the maximum (or go faster still as some are wont to do). What’s also ironic is that the council also recently installed roadside signs warning drivers of school children walking along the road, perhaps acknowledging the dangers, not that it makes any difference for the rally drivers. There is ostensibly no footpath or track for pedestrians on this road, so if a wayward rally driver comes their way, the only option is to jump into the bushes.
Now I’m not trying to bash women drivers with this story, but trying to highlight the dangers posed to all and sundry when rally driving along these roads at the two most populated and busy times of the day. It’s a time of day when you should be looking out for others, especially the kids walking to school, and be focused on keeping everyone safe. And as this road and I suspect other similar ones in the area deteriorate due to lack of any road maintenance, there’s even less reason to be a rally driver. I noted recently that there had been some sort of mishap on this particular bend, with car bits, broken branches and skid marks on the corner. This road used to be graded on a regular basis, but has now been left unattended for many months. Perhaps it’s a case of out of sight, out of mind, like so many other things in the area. Given the condition of this road one wonders what the council’s care factor is as the yellow signs certainly don’t achieve much; it appears to be just another case of seeming rather than doing. But it does bring out the rally drivers on school mornings and afternoons.