Well according to Paul Syvret of the Courier Mail we are.
Who is Paul Syvret...? I have to admit that, up to about a week ago, I hadn't heard of him. That was until I read his article about the menace that caravanners are on Australian roads and where he states that we are the single greatest road hazard in Australia.
Now that's a big call and anyone reading his article would have to wonder what data he has to back up that claim. Actually, I can tell you….he has no evidence whatsoever. Not a slither. His claim is completely unfounded and it’s an insult to everyone in this country involved in keeping our roads safe.
You see, Paul is the sort of journalist (a term I use loosely) who is so inept at his chosen profession that he has to resort to writing articles that give him some notoriety rather than to actually contribute something meaningful to the national debate. As far as I'm concerned, he’s an oxygen thief and one that we should starve by ignoring him and his dribble.
My gripe is with the Courier Mail for publishing Paul’s excrement. You see, the biggest menace on our roads is not caravanners. The biggest menace on our roads are the drivers who actually disobey the road rules.
- Those who speed.
- Those who drink and drive.
- Those who text and drive.
- Those who take drugs and drive.
They are the true menace on our roads and for the Courier Mail to distract from that important message is just plain irresponsible.
What really infuriates me about this is, for the most part, caravanners are doing what they are legally allowed to do and to blame them for the road rage they supposedly create is an attempt to deflect the focus away from the real demons on our roads.
When did it become acceptable in this country to blame someone actually doing the right thing for the actions of someone clearly doing the wrong thing? Have we really descended to that depth in our society?
Look at it this way. If you get stuck behind a caravan (or some other slow vehicle) and you get so infuriated that you do something stupid that results in a crash that causes death or serious injury, the defence “…the caravanner made me do it” is not likely to win you any sympathy with the magistrate.
Slow drivers are not the cause of road rage. Impatience, arrogance, selfishness, a lack of personal responsibility…they are the cause of rage and stating anything to the contrary is ignorant and dangerous.
The problem is it’s all too easy to blame a minority for the issues that face us all. Yes....every single one of us. I'm not sitting here presenting myself as a faultless crusader. I'm here putting my hand up to admit that I have done the wrong thing over my years of driving, and the sooner we all admit the same to ourselves, and actively do something about it, the safer our roads will become.
I ask Paul Syvret, and anyone else at the Courier Mail, have you ever exceeded the speed limit? Have you ever driven when perhaps you'd had a bit too much to drink? Have you ever sent a text message while driving?
He who is without sin.....
This leads me to another point. This notion that we MUST drive at the speed limit regardless of the prevailing conditions is a myth perpetuated by a selfish and time poor society. A speed limit is just that, a LIMIT. You must not drive faster than the limit. You can drive at a reasonable speed below the limit and, in fact, we are encouraged to do so (remember the Wife Off 5 campaign).
Now I'm not going to finish this up without admitting that the caravanning community has its share of problems. We do, and some of them are pretty big. But, and this is important, we are actively trying to do something about it. There is a huge amount of effort going on in the RV community around the country to raise awareness of the issues we face with overweight caravans and generally complying with the law. There are individual members of the police force, roads authorities, caravan industry bodies, facebook communities, and a host of individuals who have devoted many hours of their own time to improve the situation, despite a general lack of interest by governments and law enforcement agencies.
And why is there this lack of interest? Because, quite simply, the 'business case' just isn't there. By that, I mean, the statistics, the numbers of deaths and injuries resulting from incidents involving caravans, are infinitesimal compared to those resulting from speed, alcohol, drugs and driver distractions. As a result, this important work goes on largely unfunded and unrecognised except by those who we are actually trying to educate....the Australian caravanning community itself.
Paul Syvret doesn’t want you to write to him. I wouldn’t bother anyway as I imagine most of this will be lost on him. But I do urge you to write to the Courier Mail and express your disappointment with their severe lack of editorial responsibility and challenge them to do better.