On Distractions and Emergency Vehicles

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This video appeared recently in my social media stream. It’s quite horrific and could have been a whole lot worse than it actually was. If the driver in question hadn’t been bopping to music so loud that he couldn’t hear an emergency vehicle siren, or driving as quickly as he clearly was, perhaps he’d have managed to stop in time.

Okay, first viewing seems to indicate that the driver was caught unawares, despite being completely unable to hear the sirens on the emergency vehicle, BUT…..

Watch it again. Take note of the positioning of the other cars around the camera car. Take note of the truck turning right & entering the right-turn slip lane. As soon as the truck moves, the driver of the camera car becomes unsighted to almost anything coming from the right-hand side of the approaching intersection. Yet the ambulance service vehicle can still be clearly seen – if not heard –  entering from the right. Red & Blue Flashing Lights are really hard to miss if you’re paying attention, scanning ahead and taking in everything you see AND HEAR!

This is a graphic example of how things can go seriously wrong on the road if you’re:

  1. travelling too quickly for the traffic conditions;
  2. distracted by loud music, children fighting in the back-seat, mobile phones……the list goes on.
  3. generally not doing what a well trained defensive driver does – looking well ahead, driving for the conditions, reading traffic and making allowances for the unpredictable.

There is no law against having music on in your car. Even if it’s crappy music like this guy had on. There are penalties for excessively LOUD music which preclude you from hearing what you need to hear from the traffic environment you’re travelling in. In Queensland, it’s a minimum of $175 and 2 demerit points. Had the driver of the camera car in this video had his sound system turned down a little, he’d have heard the ambulance vehicle long before he saw it. What is really disturbing about this video is the presence in the car of a child, and very clearly, a young child who was traumatised by the incident. Familiarise yourself with Queensland’s demerit point system, understand that your hearing is just as valuable to you as a driver as your sight, and pay attention to everything happening around you. Your life and that of those travelling with you depend on your awareness.

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