Heading to Darwin along the Stuart Highway

Submitted: Wednesday, Mar 26, 2014 at 13:38
ThreadID: 106912 Views:1936 Replies:6 FollowUps:21
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Take extra care along the 200klm section just North of Alice Springs with unlimited speed limit. They are out there, we had an Audi, BMW and Holden Ute come past us at a great rate of knots, if you are towing a van especially in convoy it could be a recipe for disaster. Please be careful.
Rick P
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Reply By: Kumunara (NT) - Wednesday, Mar 26, 2014 at 15:40

Wednesday, Mar 26, 2014 at 15:40

Perhaps you should also send this to Adam Giles

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Reply By: Hairy (NT) - Wednesday, Mar 26, 2014 at 20:52

Wednesday, Mar 26, 2014 at 20:52
Why take "extra" care?
People have been driving at speed on all sections of that road for years?
AnswerID: 529195

Follow Up By: Member - PhilD_NT - Thursday, Mar 27, 2014 at 01:12

Thursday, Mar 27, 2014 at 01:12
Definitely take extra care, and in fact steer clear of the NT altogether otherwise you'll be massacred on our highways due to all the lunatics that have been, or will be, let loose on the road at insane speeds and death and destruction await you. Oh wait, that was the Harold Scruby fanatics that made the prophecy when the announcement was made that drivers would be allowed to find their own safe speed on decreed sections of the roads with little fear of being prosecuted for it, provided you drive to both yours and the roads conditions.

I came up here in 1973 when the Stuart and Barkly Hwy's were only very narrow bitumen and passing meant either putting 2 wheels in the dirt or even all 4. In my experiences there were far more animals around then, particularly Buff's, and yet we survived despite there being an open speed limit for almost all of the way on both Hwy's. There are still remnants of that old road to try if people want to see what it was like. There is no comparison with the current roads and far better equipped vehicles available now. There were accidents then, just like there will be in the future and people will die. But by far most will die on speed restricted roads close to or in Metro areas. I have yet to hear of any evidence presented that puts high speed as the main cause of accidents, and deaths in particular, on either the Stuart or Barkly Hwy. If you take out alcohol, going to sleep, no seatbelts, some that should never have even been issued a licence, animal avoidance (or hitting) & sleeping on the road then you would probably have to go right back to the Cannonball Run (1994) to find a true high speed accident resulting in death's. Over the years there have been a number of deaths that should not have been classified as road deaths and they have made the totals look far worse that they should have been. Sleeping on roads or under parked road-trains, jumping out of ute trays while moving and some remote property one's come to mind.

For me, I feel far safer on the NT highways that when I have to venture South and encounter the dangers I see every time I do the Pt Augusta to Pt Wakefield section. We're about to embark on a trip via WA, SA and return via inland NSW & Qld so I can't comment on those areas, YET.

Here we are being treated with some degree of respect in being able to find a comfortable speed, even within the 130kph limit areas, that also allows us to overtake at a safe passing speed. This is unlike the Southern idea of people being so afraid of being booked if they go a couple of KPH over the limit that they take forever to pass.

A final comment. It is, and has always been, the right of the Police to deal with anyone who is driving dangerously, regardless of the actual limit or there being an open limit. An open limit is only a freedom to drive at your comfortable and safe speed.
FollowupID: 811948

Follow Up By: Bazooka - Thursday, Mar 27, 2014 at 15:58

Thursday, Mar 27, 2014 at 15:58
I'd suggest the main reason you haven't heard stats for those particular highways Phil is that specific info like that is rarely publicly available. No doubt authorities will be watching with great interest though, as will the public. My guess is that the stats would show similar patterns to most other roads - which may or may not reinforce your broader point.

But make no bones about it - speed maims and kills. Numerous studies around the world have shown it. The reasons are obvious - every tiny error or problem is greatly exaggerated, stopping distances are hugely increased, as are impact forces and trauma to the body.
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Follow Up By: Hairy (NT) - Thursday, Mar 27, 2014 at 20:16

Thursday, Mar 27, 2014 at 20:16
"Speed kills".......what speed?
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Follow Up By: Member - PhilD_NT - Thursday, Mar 27, 2014 at 20:18

Thursday, Mar 27, 2014 at 20:18
Sorry, but I always have trouble understanding this mantra of "Speed kills". I always thought that it was having an accident that kills. I've never heard of speed killing anyone as there's always something else that happened, either mechanical or human failure.

To burst another little idea of info not being publically available. The NT, where I live actually, is so small in population that almost nothing spectacular happens without it becoming quite common knowledge. So when most severe accidents happen, especially those involving death, they are quite well publicised or we hear about them through friends, relatives and workmates. Availability of statistics is therefore nice but not a requirement to make observations. My previous writing as to the last major accident involving deaths and high speed on the Stuart Hwy therefore stands as the Cannonball Run. In that case it wasn't really speed that caused it as there was inattentiveness, inexperience and a possibly badly placed Control Point. I've driven past that memorial many times and nothing will sway me from that point of view. It shouldn't have happened.
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Follow Up By: Hairy (NT) - Thursday, Mar 27, 2014 at 20:30

Thursday, Mar 27, 2014 at 20:30
Ive said it on here many times .......A mate of mine was heavily involved in this area and showed me the stats at the time of bringing in speed limits and he agreed himself there was nothing supporting speed limits at that time.
Its weird timing though as I got an email from him the other day with a heap of old Cannonball run footage....he was measuring up the accident scene and then carrying the bodies away? I haven't thought about it for years....... first the email and now this discussion.........spooky!!! LOL
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Follow Up By: Bazooka - Thursday, Mar 27, 2014 at 22:01

Thursday, Mar 27, 2014 at 22:01
Really Phil, word gets around so therefore you know the details? Pardon my scepticism but how many serious accidents (ie causing significant human trauma in case you need elaboration) on those highways were the result of speed, alcohol, fatigue or a combination or these? Plus or minus 5% will do.

I don't think the label actually needs explanation Hairy. Your reply may seem a smart comeback to some but in fact it's pretty self evident what it means. I suggest you read some of the many reports which link excess speed (conditions, driving ability etc) AND outrtight high speed with serious road trauma. It's not rocket science, although physics is definitely involved.
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Follow Up By: Member - PhilD_NT - Friday, Mar 28, 2014 at 00:10

Friday, Mar 28, 2014 at 00:10
I don't keep a running tally, and why should I? I do pay attention though to reporting, both Police & media. It's a waste of time adding "fatigue", or even animal avoidance, as factors as unless there is a survivor to state it how would anyone know? Too often items such as alcohol, thrown from vehicle, not wearing seatbelt, sleeping on road or under vehicle and many pedestrian deaths that can hardly be "speed" related are mentioned. As this discussion is about the Stuart Hwy there is just no ongoing history of deaths soley due to having open speed limits. The section of Hwy chosen for this trial was done so on the basis of official statistics. By a long way most deaths here have happened in areas already speed restricted in or near metro areas. Our totals are also so low that it takes very little to skew the figures from year to year.

I'm proud that we have a Govt that listens to rational thinking and isn't soley driven by wanting to use dubious safety arguments to cover up their forward budgeting requirements for traffic penalties. I only have to travel the first section of the Stuart Hwy to Marla from the border to see the Police lying in wait on what is equal quality to the NT trial section and yet is limited to 110kph. Their actions have nothing to do with safety.

BTW, where do you live and have you ever actually driven the Stuart?

If I were you I'd be more concerned with Southern (as in anywhere else) road deaths that far outnumber ours despite all the regulations enforced on you.
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Follow Up By: Bazooka - Friday, Mar 28, 2014 at 12:14

Friday, Mar 28, 2014 at 12:14
The argument about open speed limits in the NT was done to death elsewhere on this forum Phil. A simple search will show you what I and many others had to say on that issue. In this thread I simply made the very-well documented observation, endorsed by studies in many different countries around the globe, that (excessive) speed is one of the major contributers to road trauma and death. You dismissed this by claiming "knowledge" of what happens in the NT - apparently based on a few anecdotes - which I find not even vaguely convincing. I've looked at NT road fatality stats (which don't tell the full story for many reasons as you might imagine) and in many instances they bear stark similarities to other states and countries - speed, alcohol, fatigue, failure to wear seat belts etc are major factors in road trauma. Not at all surprising for anyone who takes more than a cursory interest in road safety.

The well-known SPEED KILLS catchphrase is used because it's fact, not anecdote based on what you or I have heard on the grapevine or read in the local rag. If intuition and a bit of applied thought about how speed exacerbates minor mistakes and greatly increases the likelihood of significant injury doesn't lead you to the same conclusion then a perusal of a few reports certainly should.

The NT trial has one thing going for it and that's comparatively light traffic. If it were to be applied on say the Hume Highway I don't think there'd be any doubt at all about what would happen. Is it a worthwhile idea? I have an open mind to some extent based on previous stats but populism and playing Russian Roulette with people's lives is not my idea of good public policy.
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Follow Up By: Hairy (NT) - Friday, Mar 28, 2014 at 20:23

Friday, Mar 28, 2014 at 20:23
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Follow Up By: Member - PhilD_NT - Friday, Mar 28, 2014 at 20:54

Friday, Mar 28, 2014 at 20:54
How nice Bazooka that you've conveniently missed the point that I DIDN'T START THIS PARTICULAR THREAD. The person who did was specifically referring to a section of the Stuart Hwy that has been given an open speed limit status for a trial period. Therefore the subject is open speed limits and supposed dangers and my comments are entirely appropriate to THIS thread. I see you didn't refer the OP to go do a search for an existing thread, or is that just because you agree with their point of view? If the review at the end of the trial period changes things then so be it. It wont matter to me unless they lower the limit to below the old 130 mark anyway. Even without getting to 130 I can still get to Alice in 13.5 hours, but it's the mind numbing 110 to Pt Augusta and the dangers further on that forces me to then have a further rest night.

You decry my comments and knowledge of events happening in my own area of interest, yet you use very similar apparent knowledge to support your point of view even though I can't see and evidence from you in this thread to show personal involvement in accident investigation, just anecdotal evidence that you accuse me of. Pot, kettle, black.

Nowhere did I advocate open limits Australia wide.

I like your placement of "speed" as the first of your many factors in road trauma, and you're not the only one who does it, but other than authorities liking for including it where ever they can in accident reporting, surely alcohol should be top of any list of factors and be receiving the most attention. I have had a look at our own statistics, and when you take out those that were in already heavily limited areas and those that speed could never have been a factor anyway, there aren't too many left on the open highway. Of the remainder then the cases of not wearing a seatbelt stands out as instances where the difference between injury and death can make a significant dent in the death tally. I have never understood the attitude against wearing them.
FollowupID: 812119

Follow Up By: Bazooka - Friday, Mar 28, 2014 at 22:17

Friday, Mar 28, 2014 at 22:17
Very intelligent response Hairy. Well done son. The stats and reports for NT and other jurisdictions are all available if you can be bothered to look for yourself Phil. You can dance around the facts for as long as you want but that won't change the conclusions of those who do the studies regarding speed.
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Follow Up By: Member - PhilD_NT - Saturday, Mar 29, 2014 at 01:58

Saturday, Mar 29, 2014 at 01:58
I have already stated that I've read our stats and anyway they already get quite a coverage from the local media, in between croc stories. I don't bother with those for other areas as they are irrelevant to the discussion as no other area is experimenting with a return to an open limit. Furthermore the stats can be meaningless if read purely by themselves as knowledge of particular accidents helps to understand a lot more about them.
Also, in my time the only higher limit elsewhere I've experienced was the prima facie limit of 60mph in SA in the early 70's and possibly similar in Victoria around then. Since 1973 though I have lived in the NT with all of that time having either an open limit or the 130kph one. So at least I've had a long experience of the subject of this thread and I have yet to see any evidence of the mass carnage predicted by the "speed kills" fear mongering fraternity. What is your experience?

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Follow Up By: mikehzz - Saturday, Mar 29, 2014 at 08:11

Saturday, Mar 29, 2014 at 08:11
Comparing statistics between when the limit was 130 to when it was open is a bit meaningless as well. A 130 limit doesn't mean people were actually doing 130 or under when they had an accident. It's common in the southern states for people to be 20 over the limit so I would imagine it's the same in the NT. In my experience, 150-160 kph is fast enough for most people, too fast for some. The long and the short of it.... people are driving around about the same speed up there whether there is a limit or not, it's just that they can get booked when the limit is 130.
FollowupID: 812148

Follow Up By: Member - PhilD_NT - Saturday, Mar 29, 2014 at 09:39

Saturday, Mar 29, 2014 at 09:39
The 130 limit has only been around for a few years as against decades of unlimited. Remember my earlier comment of "It is, and has always been, the right of the Police to deal with anyone who is driving dangerously, regardless of the actual limit or there being an open limit".
So far no one has declared at what speed the "speed kills" carnage was supposed to start at. Some even consider 110 as being too fast so at 130 it surely must have already begun.
Maybe we should listen to the Academic who I heard of years ago who suggested a cure for head on accidents on 2 lane country roads. He wanted a concrete divider down the centre of all of them to prevent over-taking. Safety is one thing but zealotry and dumbing down of everything is taking it the wrong way. Maybe we should be making getting a licence harder to get, increasing the skill level and making it a more valued achievement.
FollowupID: 812159

Follow Up By: Bazooka - Saturday, Mar 29, 2014 at 10:38

Saturday, Mar 29, 2014 at 10:38
I've driven on many different NT roads Phil, perhaps not as often as you, but strangely enough that experience didn't give me any great insight into road trauma statistics or enhance my understanding of the influence speed has on the likelihood and severity of road accidents. Perhaps it was my driving technique, or maybe the roads don't bond as well with Nissana and their drivers?

I take your comment about the "fear mongering speed kills fraternity" with a grain of salt. This "fraternity" includes most people involved in road safety - including police rescue, ambos, firies who attend accidents, and yes even a few academics who have tried to give meaning to the hit and miss statistics available. Not surprises there, for me ast least.

It's possible that the NT will be exceptional and you'll be correct but as I've said at least twice now reports from across the globe suggest that higher speed limits generally lead to more fatalities AND more serious injury. Seems entirely intuitive, but obviously not. Many standard reports simply deal with tolls (deaths) and don't include serrious inury stats - which are just as relevant. Something to be mindful of whenever discussions like this occur.
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Follow Up By: Hairy (NT) - Saturday, Mar 29, 2014 at 15:36

Saturday, Mar 29, 2014 at 15:36
Re: your comment "I suggest you read some of the many reports"

My opinion was formed after a long discussion with a Senior Sargent Policeman who was a member of the NT Road Safety Council and head of the accident investigation unit which policed the discussed area before, during and after the speed limit was introduced. His opinion was formed by both stats and PERSONAL EXPIERIENCE and thought the introduction of a speed limit will not have much affect on the road toll in the NT.
With that information and personally spending most of my life driving that particular section of the road have noticed no great difference (like Mike commented) in driving behaviour or road toll, just speeding fines.
If you chose to believe the reports written by people who with possibly no experience other than statistics which can be shaped to say what ever you want, that's your choice but your waisting your breath (fingers) trying to convince a lot of people who actually drive those roads.
And if you don't mind .....keep your patronising comments like "well done son" to yourself. This is a public forum and I will comment with in the guidelines of the site owners... not yours.
Like Phil asked what's your experience with this topic, other than something you read and bumper stickers? LOL
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Follow Up By: Bazooka - Saturday, Mar 29, 2014 at 19:43

Saturday, Mar 29, 2014 at 19:43
Your yawn comment deserved worse. I actually toned my reply down. I suggest you read what I've said, not what you think I've said and refrain from juvenile comments which are more approriate for a teenager on Facebook.
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Follow Up By: Hairy (NT) - Saturday, Mar 29, 2014 at 21:41

Saturday, Mar 29, 2014 at 21:41
As usual .....you don't answer anyones questions, just give insults ........ya got to love web warriors........LOL
FollowupID: 812212

Follow Up By: Bazooka - Saturday, Mar 29, 2014 at 23:43

Saturday, Mar 29, 2014 at 23:43
Yeh I learned how to side-step from hours of watching Monty Python but find the Jonah Lomu Maori stepstep more satisfying when responding with particular mentalities.
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Follow Up By: Aussi Traveller - Monday, Mar 31, 2014 at 17:57

Monday, Mar 31, 2014 at 17:57
I understand that some people would be well out of their comfort zone when travelling at speed or being overtaken at speed, but there shouldn't be hysterics about it.

I would feel much safer in a late model car travelling at 200 kph on any of the highways up north, than travelling at the speed limit on that death trap bush highway they call Bruce, in Queensland.

There are a lot more less safer things happening on our roads and Highways to worry about than an open speed limit, chill out and drive safe.

FollowupID: 812337

Reply By: Dion - Thursday, Mar 27, 2014 at 00:32

Thursday, Mar 27, 2014 at 00:32
By the sounds of it, in the convoy they are traveling to close together if it is a recipe for disaster.
AnswerID: 529221

Reply By: Iza B - Thursday, Mar 27, 2014 at 07:55

Thursday, Mar 27, 2014 at 07:55
Vans travelling in convoy are a major danger as the annual migration starts every year. Having to overtake a long line of vehicles puts everyone in danger.

AnswerID: 529232

Follow Up By: AlanTH - Thursday, Mar 27, 2014 at 15:19

Thursday, Mar 27, 2014 at 15:19
Saw a group of about 16 vans going slowly towards Mullewa a year or so ago, no safe gap between any of them for any vehicle to over take.
But they were obviously enjoying their wildflower tour as they had big grins on the faces ....or maybe it was because of the road train trapped behind them.
Thankfully I was heading in the opposite direction. :-)
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Reply By: tonysmc - Thursday, Mar 27, 2014 at 11:31

Thursday, Mar 27, 2014 at 11:31
Victorian road toll 62. NSW 86. Qld 47. NT 8 (and some of them were pedestrians) May pay to take care everywhere!

AnswerID: 529241

Reply By: Ozrover - Monday, Mar 31, 2014 at 17:35

Monday, Mar 31, 2014 at 17:35
Yes, take care on all roads that you drive on!

How many of the "experts" on here actually drive on this section on the Stuart Highway?

I've driven it three times over the last weekend @ 100 to 130 km/h, I got overtaken twice by modern, safe vehicles.

I will be travelling it a further three times over the next week in both trucks & my 70 series, maybe I should be taking out extra insurance in case some "maniac" runs me over?

If & when someone gets hurt or worse killed on this section of highway, then it will be because of the speeder, not the numpty in an unsafe, poorly maintained piece of crap car that will be at fault!

Wake up, & drive to the road conditions, not some imagined "unsafe" speed!
AnswerID: 529505

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