This ‘road rule’ has to stop


After an impressive industry year recruiting and supporting greater numbers of women into trucking careers, my first column for 2024 was to be a congratulatory piece celebrating a new year filled with the promise of greater employment opportunities for up-and-coming female heavy vehicle drivers.

Sadly however, I find myself looking back at a devastating 2023 that saw 1253 – yes – one thousand, two hundred and fifty-three men, women and children vaporised into road crash statistics in an instant – predominantly by selfish drivers who believe speeding, aggressive, fatigued, distracted or driving drug or alcohol affected is their god given right.

Australian driving culture is steeped in a myriad of informal road rules passed down through generations of drivers to keep traffic flowing and our on-road experiences safe and respectful; don’t drive slower than the speed limit, don’t merge into one-lane traffic – then drive slowly, dip your high beam before you crest a hill and so on.

There’s one particular informal road rule however – that may well be Australia’s most deadly – a rule most drivers follow religiously with zero thought given to its potentially devastating consequences. Unbelievably, this practice is not only regarded as doing other road users a favour – it’s also as Aussie as two-up and backyard cricket.

Agreed, it’s a given most don’t drive with the intention of causing others harm, but those practicing this deadly ritual can take a bow for having unwittingly contributed – at worst to the nation’s devastating road toll – or at the very least to life- long injuries so severe, victims never fully recover.

Almost daily from behind the wheel of my heavy vehicle, I see and would guestimate that for every police vehicle out and about working to remove dangerous drivers from our roads before they kill, at least 80 per cent of road users flash their headlights to warn oncoming drivers of police presence ahead.

As a nation of drivers, we believe we’re doing each other a good turn but in reality, we have no way of knowing who’s behind the wheel of any oncoming vehicle. Let’s take a moment to consider the consequences of warning an oncoming speeding, drug-affected driver of police presence ahead.

Laughing at your stupidity, this criminally negligent – now pre-warned individual slows until the blue and red flashing lights have faded in their rearview mirror.

Now safe thanks to your early warning system – this dangerous driver puts their foot down again, only to lose control rounding a bend before crashing head-on at speed into a family of five playing eye-spy.

Rather than having the opportunity to remove this deadly driver off the road before they kill, police and other first re- sponders now find themselves walking through devastating road crash carnage, listening to blood-curdling screams, try- ing not to breathe the smell of burnt rubber, trying to unsee blood-soaked children’s toys lying torn on roads of shattered glass, trying not to think of their own families as they move amongst crumpled vehicles and body parts that an instant ago were a family of five excitedly heading off on a camping trip.

Yet another fallacy many buy into is that first-responders become hardened to the horrific sights, smells and sounds that are road crash carnage.

Many of these selfless men and women suffer life-long mental health injuries – further exacerbated by memories of pulling up outside road crash victim’s homes to do a “four o’clock knock” and having to endure the sight of mums and dads, husbands, wives and loved ones collapse in front of them as they seemingly endlessly impart their devastating news – all this – because you decided warning a dangerous driver of police presence up ahead was your good deed for the day.

This should never be us against police but rather us against dangerous drivers. Let’s rewrite this deadly unwritten road rule as follows: view every oncoming vehicle as having a dangerous driver behind the wheel. Don’t flash your lights – work with police get them off our roads before they kill.

Just as we rally against domestic violence, support gun laws to prevent mass shootings and call Crimestoppers to thwart criminal activity in our communities, the time has come for all of us to use our intel to save lives rather than protect dangerous drivers.

Don’t be a part of the problem – be a part of the solution. Sear these four simple words into your psyche: NO FLASH – NO CRASH and remember if you drive safely – police will thank – not fine you.

  • Lyndal Denny is the CEO of Women in Trucking Australia.

1 Comment

  1. Are you seriously suggesting that you are qualified to spew that load of dribble I just read as having even the slightest bit of statistical fact behind you claims? The only part you have right is the broad number of fatalities that either involves a motor vehicle or a roadway of some sort. The rest is an absolute self imposed expression of your own importance who takes the brown nose line of sucking up to the same rhetoric that we are being fed by our treasonous ruler’s that have sold out this country and pass it on as a necessity for the future of our country and for the protection of lives and welfare. When the reality is we were doing quite well when we provided what we needed locally, and we sustained our population with housing, healthcare, employment and education, not to mention transportation a standard of life that was the envy of the world. A time when people had a work ethic to do a job well or not at all and where we mostly had only best interests in mind for each other and call a spade a spade without it having some derogatory purpose labelled against it for stating a fact. A time when to do a job or to have a licence to operate any sort of machine on a public road meant that unless you were properly trained and assessed as being competent for the task then you didn’t get licenced, instead of today where any one who wants to have one can get one with a garentee to pass mentality and then penalize good operators for not tip toeing amongst the inevitable future collision waiting to happen road users amongst us. The same type of person who is happy to quote running a business at a loss because they have backing to do so that once they have a monopoly then we all get screwed . And that’s not far away as it’s happening everywhere you look and happened in plenty of places around the globe long before it hit here . Yet we don’t want to be seen as having a bigot attitude nor are we allowed to have any cultural significance in protecting a way of life or even an identity as a nation. Fair go , you need to take off the blinkers and step out side your bubble as people like you have to take a good hard look at the world around you and gave the facts. There’s no blanket cause for the road toll other than absent minded and unskilled people people causing collisions, and remember it’s no accident. Incase you are wondering I’ve got over 5 million KLM under my belt in the last 30 years and haven’t put a single scratch on anything I’ve driven and that’s cars bikes semis double or road train. All over the country, and I have done it express nose to tail when the Hume was a single lane overnighters going full noise and awake when I needed to be. But by your reckoning I should be dead and taken a few dozen with me, as after that many KLM it’s not luck that got me through.

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