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Daily Archives: April 15, 2014

An insight into a Queenslander’s life – New Push Bike Laws

Recently Queensland (Australia) has introduced laws regarding push bikes on our road. This includes always staying 1m away in a 60km zone and 1.5m in a 100km zone. There are hefty fines for those caught breaching this law. These new laws have caused my irritation at an ignoration uninformed government to barely keep contained. I have been a truck driver for many years now and have grown up with a father who at one point attended car/vehicle accidents (he did what it took to provide money for our family – so much respect). I guess you could say that I have a lot of experience on the road and have heard some shocking first hand accounts of tragedies. 

I wish I could share this post with millions of people not just in Queensland or even Australia but all over the world. No-one has correct knowledge of everything and it is important to learn something new all the time. This is why I need to write this, to explain the harsh reality of the dangers of push bikes on our roads. Maybe, just maybe we could make some people see sense. This is not about putting down our push bike riders, far from it, this is about trying to help them understand the other side of the story so to speak. 

A Semi truck doing 100km/h takes approximately 500ms to stop but if you are fully loaded it will be much further. That would mean that in a semi you always need to see at least 1km ahead of you to react and stop in time if need be. That in itself is a difficult and more often than not impossible task. I’ve had many ‘near-miss’ experiences with push bike riders on the road and each time I’m left feeling sick to my stomach at what could’ve happened but thankfully didn’t. 

I was driving fully loaded in our lovely capital Brisbane in peak hour traffic one Friday afternoon and on certain two lane roads in the city it is almost impossible to fit a truck within those lines so if you have 4 trucks all together passing then there is a high likelihood that someone may lose a mirror (been that had that happen). There is NO margin for error in a truck especially in a situation like that. Unfortunately car drivers don’t always understand how hard it is to stay in your lane especially if there is a tree/sign partially infringing on your lane. Most car drivers don’t understand our stopping distance, weight nor general size but alas you get used to ensuring you quickly correct a situation where a car has unwittingly landed themselves in a deadly position on the road. A certain main road in Brisbane is windy which gets your heart racing when you drive on it in a truck. I was in the left lane (as per Aussie rules), there were multiple cars next to me including one right in my blind spot which in a truck is quite a big area. As a driver I always ensure I know the vehicles around me at all times so that if they are hidden in a blind spot I will notice the disappearance of them which keeps everyone safe. I was doing around 50km as I knew this road very well but I was fully loaded. I rounded one of the various curves only to be met with a push bike rider in my lane doing around 30km maximum. My heart stopped, I didn’t have anywhere to go and I was only metres/seconds from killing a push bike rider and I had to think of an ‘out.’ I’ve always been taught that every driver always needs to have an ‘out’ at all times in case something goes very wrong. It’s a subconscious thing for me nowadays and it has saved many accidents and most probably even a death. One of the cars next to me had sped up closing the gap that was my ‘out’ just before we rounded the corner together. I was left with a life changing choice – try and stop or take my chances with the car next to me. I prayed that the car driving was a local (Brisbane drivers are used to avoiding people who cut them off because they’re lost or driving erratically). I didn’t know if the car had a children in it or a family but the push bike rider would be given a death sentence if I didn’t swerve – so I did. I chanced the car driver’s skills at avoiding my long truck and swerved straight into their lane. We were all lucky that day and I’m so thankful that that car driver was watching and was able to dodge out of my way (I did get a blast of the horn until they realised why I’d done it). I have had a few moments in my career where you just want to stop and cry/composure yourself/stop shaking. I’m glad my truck isn’t the biggest you can get but at 10m+ non-articulated steel you still have so many dangers. With my truck, if I turn before the back axle has passed a certain point then the back few metres of absolute solid steel will flick out and take out anything that gets it its way. To emphasize how strong that steel is – a van drove straight into the side steel of the truck at around 80km and all that the truck sustained was a scratch in the paint! If that push bike rider was closer to the apex of the corner or I was looking in my mirrors then by the time I reacted, swerved it most probably would’ve been too late as he would’ve been killed by the back as the truck turned. Unless you’re in that position and have experienced the fear of almost having no way of stopping your vehicle from killing someone then you can’t fully understand that. This was not the first and certainly not the last time I was put in a such a dangerous position with a push bike rider on the road. As with every traumatic experience you always look back and relive those moments questioning what you could’ve done differently. I know many truck drivers who have been left with some terrible psychological problems from being involved in accidents where someone has died and although they were not at fault they are left to relive the terrible screams of people trapped and dying. Horrific I know! My dad once told me how he attended an accident involving a car and push bike. When he arrived someone was being put into an ambulance and they called his name. He was shocked to see an adolescent male missing more skin than not and it was a friend of the families he had known since the boy was only little. The boy explained that he was riding his bike and had forgotten to look properly and had been hit by a car. He was scared and seeing a familiar face wanted my dad to stay with him (understandably) but once the painkillers were administered the paramedics assured my dad he would be fine and left. In a job where you attend and are sometimes the first on the scene you have to detach yourself from the situation of you would never be able to cope but seeing someone you know, it breaks down those walls that hold back your emotions. 

In my opinion push bike riders should not be allowed on our roads and the only reason is because it is just too damn dangerous for them. They are putting themselves at a huge risk everytime they take to the roads. There are many times when you are on the road and not just as a truck driver but a driver of any vehicle when you are presented with a ‘you or them’ situation and although most of those turn out ok there are the ones where the driver has done whatever it took to avoid someone else and for that they perished. It’s human nature to swerve away from another human whether they be in a car, motorbike, truck, on a push bike or even a pedestrian and it that can result in self-sacrifice.

I don’t know if there is a solution to the problem of where people are allowed to ride their push bikes safely but the footpath seems like a much safer idea right now. I really wish I could take each and every single push bike rider for a drive and show them what happens in a situation involving a push bike and truck. There is a stage where you become powerless to do anything to fix the situation and in a truck things like desperately braking and praying you will stop is one of those. You just become a passenger on a de-railing train that can’t be stopped so to speak and all you can do is watch as the nightmare unfolds.

To all those push bike riders – please ride safe and don’t forget how vulnerable you are on the road.

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Posted by on April 15, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Your Characters are Influenced By Your Life – Like It Or Not

This blog entry isn’t just for writers but for readers and writers alike.

What makes your favourite character? Favourite villain? Favourite hero? And why? It all comes down to your own personality and life experiences. Every single one of us will have different answers and hundreds of different reasons too. In a love triangle in a book I always fall in love with the guy who has loved her from the beginning. The unwavering love that will always be there is the one that will always triumph over the rest. True pure love doesn’t die. There is no end to it so for me a character who posses that kind of love will always win my heart. But that’s just me and I’m a true romantic.If you take your favourite book and look at the characters you connected with most. Are those characters the same ones that the writer has promoted to those roles? Not always but that’s a good thing.

Every author, whether they know it or not, bases their characters on what they love and hate and their life experiences. I attended an all girls college for the whole of my schooling. When you’ve got 1000+ girls together there is a lot of bitchiness and always an unspoken competition over whose parents have the most money. Unfortunately I was near the bottom and although I harboured a lot of resentment toward those girls with exceedingly wealthy parents, I am now appreciative that my parents taught my the value of money. We always had to budget and I was very grateful for everything I was given. My sister and I were spoilt by our parents as much as they could afford (and so much than that) but we were respectful. Manners were a huge thing in my house and we weren’t even allowed to say bum. All of those things have shaped me to unknowingly create antagonists that are usually female, mostly bratty and impolite. My protagonists are usually relatable to me – regardless of how much money their family has they are polite, respectful and many nice things but not EVERYTHING. Of course I refuse to allow my life thus far dictate all of my writing but it is nice to create a few characters that bring out strong feelings within you whether it be positive or negative. That is something that I feel is paramount to writing. You need to feel passionate about all of your characters (main ones especially) in order to portray them in a way that people can also relate to. So next time you read or write maybe stop for a moment to consider why you love/hate certain characters and you might find you learn something about yourself. It’s important to never been ashamed of the things in life that have shaped you as a person because sometimes they can inspire you to write something incredible.

Better get back to editing I guess…..

spongebob-homework

Procastination

 
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Posted by on April 15, 2014 in Uncategorized, Writing

 

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