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Leadfoot Doyle crashes and burns

November 30th, 2002

I didn’t take a very close interest in the Victorian state election – I share the lack of intense feeling about Bracks that is the secret of his success, and the result always looked like a foregone conclusion. One thing that gave me a bit of interest was Leadfoot Doyle’s appeals to the speeders lobby, promising to allow more dangerous roads with less of those pesky speeding tickets. Short of promising to legalise assault rifles, he couldn’t have done anything more irresponsible. In fact, he got predictable support from the same quarters in blogdom that support free access to guns, notably Tim Blair. Rather than say he and his friends want to enjoy themselves speeding and are happy to have a few hundred of their fellow-citizens have to die every year as a result, Tim trotted out the tired canard about revenue raising. To see how far off the mark this is, you only need to look at the results of vigorous enforcement of road safety laws, in which Victoria has led the way. As this ABS
history of road fatalities in Australia road deaths have been halved since the first serious enforcement measures (compulsory seat belts) began in 1970. Measured against population, vehicle numbers or kilometres driven the results are even more dramatic.
But Tim’s views have prevailed in the US, where enforcement of road safety laws is far less vigorous. The result is that road deaths there are rising. The comparison is even more unfavorable when expressed in terms of deaths per registered vehicle or per unit of distance travelled. In 1970, the US was easily the safest country in the world in which to drive thanks to excellent roads and state-of-the-art safety measures. Now, although our roads are still awful, Australians face lower risks on both measures and the gap is growing.
Robert Doyle wanted to undermine the most successful public health initiative in Australia’s history, one that has saved tens of thousands of lives. He richly deserves the crushing defeat he has received.

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