‘It is stupid and someone is going to die.’
That was a quote from a truck driver in an article this week about the proposed new laws to ease congestion during (and post) the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games.
While I disagree that the proposed changes are inherently stupid, I do agree with the second premise that the roads will be less safe.
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You see a big part of the proposal involves trucks being confined to the left lane, at all times.
I think we can all agree that, in an ideal world, this is a completely sensible idea.
Unfortunately where the M1 is concerned, we are dealing with decidedly less-than-ideal circumstances.
In the article I read, the truck driver insists that by staying in the right-hand lane ‘at traffic speed’ he is being more safe, staying away from those in the left or ‘slow’ lane who may be scared by a big B-double truck bearing down on them as they merge onto or off of the freeway.
This response is right for the wrong reasons and sadly, the entire M1 proposal is wrong (but for the right reasons).
You see trucks should be in the left lane of a freeway.
At all times.
But they are not because, and here is the hard pill to swallow, many people on Gold Coast roads simply can’t drive properly.
The main issue here is with Queenslanders genetic inability to merge effectively into and out of flowing traffic, but general driving skill and awareness is also adding to the problem.
It is not so easy for a truck, that is behind a car that puts its indicator on 4km out from the exit and slows to 65km/h, to quickly change lanes and give driver of said car an angry stare as they overtake.
You know the kind of driver I’m talking about, the ‘Jar Jar Binks of drivers’ that other motorists try and avoid at all costs but, despite their best efforts, always seem to be stuck near or behind one.
For a truck though, that means braking suddenly, not to mention the loss of precious time off their trip – both great incentives to simply stay in the right lane.
So invariably trucks stay away from the Jar Jar’s under the pretence of safety in order to get to where they are going on time.
But while the truck driver I quoted at the start of this article is technically right – it IS safer for trucks to be as far away from the slowest, worst drivers on the Gold Coast – the solution to this problem is also unworkable.
It only takes a second slow car, a slightly less incompetent Jar Jar if you will, to want to overtake the initial slow-exiting car for all traffic to now be (quite literally) stuck behind two slow cars and a truck.
This is congestion 101 and while truck drivers are not the primary cause of it, their solution to the problem actually causes more congestion.
The biggest problem facing these proposed changes is the sad reality that, with current driving competencies, we cannot have both a safer AND less congested M1.
Trucks being confined to the left lane will be music to the ears of anyone who can merge/indicate/overtake/accelerate/check mirrors or generally just drive well.
But it will also absolutely expose the most inept drivers to a higher frequency of times when they will need to be better drivers than they are capable of being.