dense roadsigns in intersection

Pushing the Limit

Speeding is the only road traffic enforcement you regularly hear Victorian drivers complaining about, typically framed in the context of revenue raising and how everyone speeds so its ok. While on the other side it is well known that increasing speed increases the injuries and chance of death when an accident occurs, so reducing the speed of vehicles is an important component of road safety.

Following the majority of drivers and simply driving just above the speed limit is becoming a significant personal risk with the tolerance for a speeding offence having been dropped to just 2km/h over the posted limit. But trying to drive at the limits posted attracts impatient drives who then harass and intimidate you for not driving at the speed they desire. Recommendations from road safety groups to slow down when wet are outright ignored and its now normal for vehicles to be triggering their traction control in residential streets or pulling away from the stop line at an intersection.

Making accurate estimates of other vehicles speed can be challenging but vehicles moving much faster or slower than the usual flow noticeably stand out, such was this dark coloured Mitsubishi Pajero with license plate UFW241:

The video provides a convenient timing reference running at a steady 25 frames per second, and the shadow cast by the large four wheel drive against the kerb allows us to pick its position along the road with relative accuracy. Aerial photo data provides the distance travelled to be 105m and the time taken from the duration of the video is 4.2 seconds for an estimated speed of 90km/h (56 mph). We can have some fun with physics to further embarrass the driver who in their 2200kg (4800 lbs) vehicle is carrying 4 times more energy into any possible collision than a driver in a medium sided car who is obeying the speed limit.

Lacking any visible speed limit signs in the near vicinity two possible interpretations are that this road continues the 60km/h (37 mph) limit of other lengths of the road (as in the lead image) and the roads feeding it, or the more pessimistic possibility that there are no speed limit signs applying and the default speed limit is in place:

25 Speed-limit elsewhere
(1) If a speed-limit sign does not apply to a length of road and the length of road is not in a speed- limited area or shared zone, the speed-limit applying to a driver for the length of road is the default speed-limit.

(2) The default speed-limit applying to a driver for a length of road in a built-up area is 50 kilometres per hour.

Having a mixture of residential and commercial properties facing onto this street either limit could be appropriate, but it is sure this is not a highway. Penalties for speeding offences scale with the amount by which the driver exceeds the limit and at these “higher range” offences (exceeding the limit by 30-34 km/h) a driver would expect a $505 fine, 4 demerit points recorded against their licence (a maximum of 12 may be accumulated in any 3 year period before the licence is suspended) and for these significant speeding offences a mandatory 1 month driving suspension is also applied.

But as always this is Melbourne where enforcement is almost nonexistent, particularly in this area where the police don’t even respond to obvious crimes, or the routine flaunting of road rules by the local residents. Escalating fines and suspensions is doing little to discourage the drivers of Melbourne, it requires people on the ground to enforce the law.

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