ON the topic of road safety and the police, I get sick to death of the claim that 'there's no such thing as accidents' and that every single crash can be prevented.
Take this incident last August when two truck drivers lost their lives in tragic circumstances last August in Truro SA during a dust storm - ABC;
The crash came amid a severe weather warning, with conditions along the highway reducing visibility to about a metre, according to police.
The circumstances are still being investigated, but the state's Road Transport Association has rejected suggestions pulling over would have been the safer option, saying it could have put other road users at risk.
However, Police Commissioner Grant Stevens said while the crash was a "tragic collision" and expressed his deepest sympathies for both victims and their families, he said poor decisions were to blame.
"A dust storm does not cause vehicles to crash. It's the decisions of the drivers," Commissioner Stevens said.
"Every collision that occurs on our roads primarily a result of a bad decision by someone using a vehicle.
"In this case, those decisions related to a choice made to continue driving, or driving in a manner which was not consistent with the conditions."
"Airlines don't let pilots take-off when they can't see. If airports are fogged in, or weather conditions prevent safe flying, planes don't take off," Commissioner Stevens said.
"What makes us think we can continue to drive on our roads if visibility is down to zero?
"If zero is the extent that you have visibility, then zero is the speed you should be doing."
The families of the deceased truck drivers criticised the Police Commissioner for that statement blaming the truck drivers for what happened - because as it turns out (from a subsequent investigation) one of the trucks was forced to swerve into the path of the other truck by a motorist who had stopped on the highway (just as Commissioner Stevens said they should have done) but had not pulled fully off the road because of the lack of a shoulder. So in fact the crash was caused by a third party AND the lack of somewhere safe to pull over.
I've driven that road a fair bit to visit friends in the Riverland and its really not a very good road - I'd hazard a guess that the truck drivers may have even been looking for somewhere safe to pull over when the accident happened. For Commissioner Stevens to try and say that they caused the accident by being on the road when there was probably no other safe option at that moment was frankly disgraceful and a kick in the guts to the families of the deceased.
Ah, sorry, run that by me again...
This accident happened during a dust storm which reduced visibility to less than a metre - you couldn't see to the end of your bonnet.
The visibility was so bad a car decided to pull over and stop, but couldn't pull completely off the road. A following truck driver, in the same visibility conditions, made the choice to continue to drive. That truck driver was travelling fast enough that they couldn't stop in the distance in which they saw the stopped car, so veered onto the wrong side of the road. They collided with a truck coming the other way that had also made same decision about not stopping.
The claim is that decision by the two truck drivers not to stop was correct, because if they had stopped they might have been run into by a hypothetical following vehicle that was hypothetically travelling too fast to stop in the conditions.
If the report as to the conditions were accurate, IMHO the police position was correct.
The following truck driver was driving too fast for the conditions - the legal requirement is that they need to be travelling slow enough to stop in the sighting distance. End of story. If there was no safe sighting distance they needed to have stopped.
The fact that there wasn't sufficient room to fully clear the road was a contributing factor, but did not, in itself, cause the accident. There could have been anything obstructing the road - including another truck travelling slowly to suit the conditions.