Avoid the blackspots - in a roundabout way

Teaching them early, and often, is the way of the future.
Mark Rothfield
There’s a roundabout down the road from me that looks like every other roundabout this side of Canberra. It has, however, been designated a ‘Black Spot’ and bears the broken glass and skid marks to prove it.

You half expect Jaws music to be playing on approach, though for the life of me I can’t see what’s so deadly about it. It’s in a 50km zone with good vision from all directions and the bitumen is like a baby’s bum.

Old coots hit the anchors regardless of whether they have the right of way, while young whippersnappers plough through even when they don’t … nothing unusual there.

But that’s the point I suppose. If everyone drove sensibly this spot wouldn’t have had its reputation blackened – roundabouts themselves aren’t dangerous, drivers are.

Which brings me, in a round-about way, to the fact that Michael Gallacher, NSW Minister for Police and Emergency Services, recently announced eight water safety initiatives that will share $2 million funding as part of the Water Safety Black Spots Fund.

That's more than a drop in the ocean, but as Mr Gallacher said, quoting from the political PR bible Cliches for Dummies: 'These organisations are passionate about identifying problem areas and ensuring lives are not put in unnecessary danger.'

It’s a misnomer, in my book. People cause boating accidents; water exacerbates the problem. A muddy puddle can be dangerous if you fall face first with a rugby maul on your back. A bath is dangerous if you drift off to sleep. A lake is dangerous if you’re half tanked in a tiny boat when a southerly strikes.

Bass Strait, meanwhile, can be as benign as a kitten's milk bowl on certain days.

In the days of tallships, eons before GPS and radar, the Victorian Shipwreck Coast was perilous. Sydney Harbour’s entrance could be dangerous.

But then, as in now, attitude and incompetence were the killers. That’s why one of the Black Spot initiatives actually makes great sense. The BIA of NSW was awarded $194,300 to roll out its Boat Smart Safe Boating Program to more schools in NSW.

It is working with the Marine Teachers Association of NSW to expand the Marine Studies Syllabus, following a successful pilot Student Boat Training Program at Menai High School in southern Sydney.

‘The project will provide education hubs with equipment and resources to expand the reach of safe boating education to surrounding schools. The BIA estimates that 4000 students will have access to the program,’ BIA of NSW General Manager Roy Privett said.

Through their offspring the parents will learn and hopefully, in the future, the black spots will gradually fade to gray and then one hopes to white.


See you at Sanctuary Cove!!!