Safe travels over the holidays
This Christmas I ventured further than I usually do over the busy holiday period. I faced the gauntlet and made my first Christmas trip to Melbourne in ten years. What I witnessed was a reminder of why I usually avoid being on the roads at this busy time of year. It has prompted me to share with others some safe travelling tips, bearing in mind that courteous and safe driving behaviours reduce the risk of road trauma.
- Follow the vehicle in front at a safe distance – do not tailgate. It is recommended that you leave at least two seconds between you and any vehicle ahead. If towing, allow a larger gap as heavier rigs require a longer stopping distance. Remember, the faster you drive, the longer it takes to stop.
- Ensure that your towing vehicle is in top mechanical condition. When did you last check the trailer wheel bearings? I lost count of the broken down trailers I counted left on the road side. It’s a long distance to the nearest repair shop when out of telephone range and on country roads.
- When overtaking lanes appear, it is not a signal for to increase your speed unless you want to overtake. An overtaking lane gives other drivers the opportunity to pass you legally and safely if you have not been sitting on the speed limit. It is ridiculous how many drivers I noticed sitting on 80kph in a 100kph zone, and then magically increased their speed once double lanes appeared. Of course once the road was back to one lane these drivers reduced their speed again?? Frustrating!
- Be aware of what is going on behind you. If you are not comfortable sitting on the speed limit, pull off the road when it is safe to do so to allow traffic build up to overtake you. At one point in time, I was stuck behind a slow caravan who had at least four opportunities to safely pull over to allow traffic to pass. Perhaps he was not aware of the 1km of traffic behind him. He did not even pull over at Cann River, and continued at his slow steady pace. At one overtaking lane, only two vehicles were able to pass the driver because he then decided to increase his speed. Of course he decreased it again when the road went back to one lane.
- Remember the road rule ‘Keep left in a multiple lane road unless overtaking’. Again, this gives drivers the opportunity to safely overtake slow moving vehicles.
- Manage fatigue by sharing drivers or utilising rest stops.
- You must be able to see dangerous situations before they happen and be prepared to respond quickly to prevent them. Be aware of visibility, space and communicate effectively.
I hope you all arrive safely to your next destination.
Council survey gets thumbs down
I was one of those who completed the Bega Valley Shire Council survey on the Special Rate variation.
Before doing so I consulted with 14 friends and acquaintances to gain their opinions.
Not one approved the proposal.
Comments ranged from “The council can’t be trusted” to “It’s a waste of time, they have already made the decision”.
Most people felt council wasted money, one example being the Imlay street footpaths.
A few short years ago council spent a great deal of money replacing the then existing footpath with a fancy grey brick pattern set in concrete.
Recently council used a grinder to level various bumps and dips in the footpaths.
The surface of the bricks was ground off resulting in the footpaths now having a most unsightly appearance.
Those councillors and administrators responsible for the original decision to lay the bricks and the subsequent decision to grind them off earn no points.
The survey was carried out by telephone and the questions designed to facilitate approval of the proposal.
Questions such as “Are you satisfied with the level of infrastructure provided by council?” eventually led participants to an inevitable “yes” when the question of “do you support the rate variation proposal?” was put.
I did not give my approval to the proposal and judging by the comments of my neighbours I think it unlikely that many ratepayers would have done so.
Veterans urged to think and act healthy
The New Year is traditionally a time for taking stock, reflecting on the past year and making resolutions for the year ahead. If your health is your main concern, you may be thinking it’s a good time to see your doctor for a check-up. However, your health is largely in your own hands, and the only person who can put healthy habits into practice is you.
Taking control of your health has many benefits. One of the main contributors to stress is feeling out of control. If you blame your partner, your income, your job or your family for your poor health then your stress levels will soar. Taking control will reduce your stress and, in turn, increase your sense of wellbeing.
There’s another important issue we need to think about that contributes to poor health, and it’s called sitting. When you think about it, we sit most of the time. We sit getting to work, we sit at our desks at work, we sit when we eat and we sit watching TV. Too much sitting is a health hazard, and a good New Year’s resolution is to move more: look for opportunities to walk, stand and be active.
We all need a better balance in our lives. A weekly routine of healthy eating, regular exercise and social contact will enhance your health, energy levels and enjoyment of life. Involving other people in your New Year’s resolution is a good idea: start a daily walk with a friend, join a healthy cooking class or challenge a mate to give up smoking or cut back on the alcohol.
The Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) has a wealth of healthy ideas and information: visit www.dva.gov.au and search for ‘health & wellbeing’. There’s information about Day Clubs in your local area, where to find interesting physical and social activities, a wealth of mental health resources and much more. You can also call DVA on 133 254, or 1800 555 254 from regional Australia.
Finally, let’s be positive about ourselves and who we are because, in reality, we are very well off. It’s a truism that it’s much easier to complain than to applaud.
Dr Graeme Killer
Principal Medical Adviser
Department of Veterans’ Affairs