A proposal for electric-car manufacture in Australia
How dangerous are these vehicles?
My experience has been that Australian politicians are so risk-averse, that they (or their minders) simply return a thank-you letter, and ignore the details or the intrinsic value in allowing the elderly and the disadvantage to have access to a low-cost, low-speed, limited range, small-family vehicle that is essential for many of them to retain their independence.
The universal response from politicians is to direct me to the vehicle safety regulations and licensing authorities. Either that, or they consider mobility scooters solve all of these problems.
The whole point of this MinEV proposal is not to introduce a substandard vehicle into Sydney's traffic jams. If you think this, you have missed the point.
The legislated use of the Postcode identifier on the vehicle's numberplate, allows easy policing of a new category of limited-range, low-speed road vehicles which will accompany other low-cost, limited range, sub-safety-standard vehicles already being driven legally on the roads. I am talking about:
and about the wide range of illegal vehicles that now run down suburban streets for short distances at low speeds, such as:
- motor bikes
- motor scooters,
- electric scooters
- electric skateboards,
- children on skates
- the occasional 'gopher' (mobility scooters).
I live in a four-lane suburban street about 1.5 kms from Lindfield railway station. There are no parking stations on my side of the railway and Pacific Highway, so every rail commuter coming from east of the railway station parks all day on both sides of our street for about a kilometre from the station.
This street is also a major bus route, and buses thunder down it every 10-20 minutes throughout the day because Lindfield station is their terminus. So when they are running behind schedule they come down here with throttle wide open.
However they aren't half as fast as the hoons with their open-baffle hot-rods who also use the road to get to wherever hoons go in such a hurry.
But I'm not complaining about this. My focus is on the genuine level of risk associated with this proposal. This is a job for the statistical specialist in the insurance industry: the actuary.
Let's get some proportion here!
In effect, my quiet suburban road is a two-lane high-intensity traffic channel because the State Transport Authority has never bothered to build a multi-level car park near the station, preferring to allow high-rise developers to boost the railway's commuter client numbers instead.
I have never had a serious accident, and nor has my wife, and I'm 82 years old and living exclusively on a pension. I drive a 1999 Toyota RAV 4 because that's all I can afford. It is also more than I need.
I use the car about three or four times a week to do some local shopping, attend medical appointments, get prescriptions filled, and occasionally get a haircut. The cost for me to maintain my RAV4, despite it only travelling, on average, about 10-20 kms a week, is about $2,500 annually - divided roughly 50:50 between License and Green Slip coverage, plus some regular servicing and fuel costs. There's not an actuary in the world who would claim that these costs are justified.
I want a much more limited vehicle for daily use, and I'm sure that many of the commuters who are now leaving expensive vehicles parked all day in our street would be very happy to have something like a MinEV as a second family vehicle also.
Who is more likely to cause injury to others?
- Me in my new limited-range, limited speed MinEV electric golf-cart travelling these distances in off-peak periods?
- The commuters who's cars line the streets leaving insufficient distance between for a truck and a bus to pass.
- The buses, being driven by tired behind-the-schedule drivers?
- The hot-rodding hoons?
- The normal car drivers clocking up 10,000 kms a year, often in heavy traffic and on high-speed highways and playing dodge-between-lanes on motorways? etc.
Who is more likely to suffer a serious injury themselves?
- Me in a completely enclosed small, strong (cast aluminium cage) electric vehicle with seat belts?
- The kids on skateboards, and those teenagers on skates?
- The student commuters who cruise to the railways station on their electric skateboards every morning?
- Kids on bicycles going to school, or the local Postie and Pizza Delivery guy?
- The raft of early morning joggers, who need to cut across the nearest corner on a angle (the runner's equivalent of 'J-walking') with their back to the down-hill traffic?
Yet who pays the highest price per kilometer to use the roads?
All I can say is:
"Cummon you guys! Let's get some proportion into our decisions."
There's nothing easier and safer for a politician than to do nothing.
But we pay you to make these decisions, and to make them rationally.