The director of the NSW Centre for Road Safety, Soames Job, said an extra 64 people had been killed to date on the state's roads compared with the same period last year.Dr Job said yesterday speeding had increased as a factor in crashes this year. ''The pattern of crashes suggests that in response to the economic downturn, drivers are working harder, starting earlier and driving faster between appointments to try to maintain their income.
The fascinating thing about this statement is that it is made without any reference to evidence - apart from the number of people killed. This sounds like a wild-arsed theory to me; that the economic downturn is leading to more road deaths.
I'm not sure where he gets the idea of people working harder from, given that a lot of companies have cut back on the hours of their employees in order to cut costs. If anything, drivers should be starting later and working fewer hours than last year.
As for driving faster between appointments - don't make me laugh. The average road speed in Sydney has been falling for years, and I imagine it will be slower again this year than last when the numbers are added up. Road congestion is as bad as it ever was. It's pretty hard to drive faster when you're stick in gridlock that stretches over the horizon. Only yesterday, the newspapers were reporting that frustrated drivers in the north west of Sydney are driving on dividing strips in order to get around endless traffic jams.
There are plenty of possible reasons for why road deaths have gone up, but the reflex action of the road safety industry is to blame speed. I'm surprised it was not accompanied by a call for higher fines, more demerits, lower speed limits and more speed cameras.