The creed for speed

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Comment - PAUL POT­TINGER CARS­GUIDE ED­I­TOR paul.pot­tinger@cars­guide.com.au

“A WANKER’S go­ing to go and ruin it for ev­ery­one.”

This was a com­monly ex­pressed sen­ti­ment last week­end as the North­ern Ter­ri­tory re­placed malaise with un­mit­i­gated mo­tion. We re­fer to the re­moval of the speed limit on a sec­tion of road north of Alice Springs.

Au­thor­i­ties were moved by the ob­vi­ous fact that main­tain­ing 130km/h on this bar­ren stretch of bi­tu­men is the equiv­a­lent of driv­ing un­der gen­eral anaes­thetic, but mainly we sus­pect be­cause the chink of change from tourists and car com­pa­nies had ceased.

No one’s will­ingly driv­ing that patch of black­top without ma­jor mo­ti­va­tion.

Cen­tralian Ad­vo­cate ed­i­tor and old Cars­guide hand Bryan Littlely brought news of an As­ton Martin Van­tage and even a Chrysler Crossfire do­ing 250kmh-plus.

“I’ve been driv­ing this road for 22 years and never had a prob­lem,” As­ton pilot Peter Jack­son says. “I fear that the blame for one id­iot’s ac­tions may ruin it for ev­ery­one, though.”

That’s the con­cern. A toss­bag in a con­veyance vastly over­pow­ered for their mea­gre abil­ity, or sim­ply in­ad­e­quate to the task, will stick it in in such a way as to pred­i­cate a spec­tac­u­lar ex­tinc­tion event. Thus from the wood­work will crawl ev­ery finger-wav­ing pis­sant politi­cian, ten­ure-hun­gry aca­demic and hys­ter­i­cal head­line hack. Nor will it be a mat­ter merely of the Ter­ri­tory’s un­re­stricted limit be­ing junked once more. The reper­cus­sions will fur­ther blight the daily driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence of mil­lions.

In­so­far as road safety has been de­bated in this coun­try, the ar­gu­ment has been warped and won by peer-re­viewed ex­perts and quota-fix­ated se­nior po­lice who beep: “Speed kills-speed kills- speed kills” like es­pe­cially te­dious and men­da­cious au­toma­tons.

This, of course, is a per­ver­sion of the fact that speed kills if you can’t drive in the first place. Those of us lucky to drive in Ger­many and other first world coun­tries for our work ob­serve peo­ple com­mut­ing safely at speeds that would have them in­car­cer­ated here.

For Ger­mans, a li­cence is a hard-won priv­i­lege that en­tails mas­tery of a rig­or­ous prac­ti­cal cur­ricu­lum, as op­posed to re­v­erse park­ing with your older sib­lings un­til they re­signedly forge your log­book. Nor do Ger­many’s state gov­ern­ments ob­ses­sively pred­i­cate road safety on speed and the steady ac­cu­mu­la­tion of the rev­enue in­her­ent to this regime.

As if a dozen cars co­coon­ing across three lanes at an in­di­cated 98km/h on the Tul­la­ma­rine Free­way for fear of be­ing done by a cam­era is safe. As if tak­ing min­utes to crawl past a truck be­tween Syd­ney and New­cas­tle or on the Bruce High­way is safer than fin­ish­ing the ma­noeu­vre smartly and smoothly (that’s as­sum­ing the truck is on the in­side lane).

So to those in­tend­ing to cut loose out of The Alice, do so ju­di­ciously — and re­mem­ber your obli­ga­tion to those suf­fer­ing else­where.

Top En­ders: Chris and Peter Jack­son with their As­ton Martin V8 Van­tage, rider Reece Deb­ney and Co­nan Latham with a Chrysler Crossfire at the un­lim­ited trial stretch of Stu­art High­way near Alice Springs

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