Increase in crashes and risk to emergency services on our roads

15 car crash on the M1, Why and how?

People do not hop into cars to crash, yet our road toll costs us over $36bn pa.

There are two issues with this story.

  1. Why do people run into cars, even cars that are off the main lanes and parked on emergency lane
  2. Why slowing down actually creates more risk and serious crashes
  3. Why people look and don’t see (Saccadic Masking)
  4. What is the trigger for driver behaviour really.
  5. Why this law has been repealed and caused issues, serious crashes and near misses in other states.


It will be fascinating reading, it all takes in the ART of DRIVING that driving schools and transport departments choose to ignore

Learning to drive, getting your drivers licence and our crash rates, are all on a collision course.

Everything that happens on the road, is a symptom, not a cause

We say this about the fatal five,( now seven) they are not causes of crashes, but symptoms of poor driving.

First, the problem.

Learning to drive is the only form of education, where the student is allowed to define their own process, the supervisor is self appointed, based on relationship alone and the failure rate of competency post licence is a 3000% increase in crashes.
No other form of education and or training is allowed to function in this manner. But we do it with how we prepare and educate drivers.

There is even a government funded campaign, called Keys to Drive, where their mantra is “Learn your own way”

Funding is $15m per year, and the only contribution is to provide a free driving lesson and information that essentially tells the parents, all they have to do is sit down, shut up and their teen learner drivers will work it out…..

Now if that was the problem, we would not have the problem, as we all taught ourselves how to drive…. Irony in that statement

A key challenge is how our brains process threats and hazard information, called “Embodied Cognitive Skill”

Our process is for our natural environment, walking and running, yet in the car we introduce speed, and our brain cannot process speed.

So we change the environment, but not the program, so the program crashes. This is also why young drivers are over represented in crashes, as no one teaches them any of this.

As a benchmark, Total Driver gave Griffith University 1000 sample students and yet recorded only one crash in three years. A massive change in driver behaviour.

Another challenge is that we look and don’t see, women love to call it the boy look, but the reason the majority of males suffer more from it is that females have twice the photo receptor cells in their eyes as do males. They relate this back to the “Hunter Gatherer Syndrome” our primary roles for our natural environment

As driver trainers, it changes how we communicate to men and women, as the brains process differently, the skills are different ( a study showed even at the age of 5, boys were 4 times stronger in cognitive skills than females, it is one of the reasons when males and females choose different pursuits in sports, activities.

(Of course we are generalising here, there are a mix of variations between effeminate males and masculine females. This study was done before we became PC and confused on this topic)

Now to add to the mix, we don’t see how we would like to think we do, it is not a continuous movie, it is a series of photos, that our brain puts together to create a real. Like how they made comics and cartoons back in the day

They call this Saccadic Masking.

So where it goes wrong, is when you combine all of the above together, the driver looks, takes a visual picture, creates a mental picture and thinks they see, but they are covering ground with speed ( lets clarify speed later) for some, 40kph is too fast, yet we have drivers who compete on streets, at over 250kph and don’t crash (Referencing at V8 Supercars, Indy cars and F1 here) SO physical speed is not the issue, but this is a separate blog.

They look, take a picture, but the speed effect has taken them into the next frame, where there is no picture,


There are specific techniques Total Driver uses and covers in our driver training programs and driving lessons, this is why our students do not crash cars and we can claim a 400% reduction in crashes.

So it is not a lack of concentration, it is not a lack of attention, it is not a lack of anything, but correct driver training in the ART of DRIVING and understanding what that actually is.

So now we know why good people, responsible people, have silly crashes.

Out of every option of the good things we can do to manage it, bureaucracy does the opposite. As an example, notice how all roads are separated by a concrete divider, or wire ropes right on the side of the road, it is the road safety strategy that defines they cannot stop crashes, so they chose to contain them.

Ever wondered why the traffic just stops, for no reason, then gets moving again and there is no reason, no broken down cars, no crashes, no explanation?

It is called the bottleneck effect.

Flow is restricted, on a busy motorway, it could be as simple as people merging on, so as each car slows a little, to allow another car on, that compresses the traffic behind and it becomes like a piano accordion. Compressing until everyone has stopped, then the flow opens up.

By imposing laws, they make an unsafe situation even more unsafe, as there is a new element for drivers to manage, unexpected stops in traffic flow, that should be doing 100kph, but suddenly stops for no reason

Think of a water bottle (no one is sponsoring this article 😊 ) small neck with the cap on, large bottle for contents. When the bottle is turned upside down, the volume exceeds the ability to escape.

That is your congestion in a nutshell

So when they drop the speed limit, say from 110kph, to 80kph, this restricts the flow through, but not the flow behind. It stops the traffic very quickly.

This is why we see crashes where the cars, trucks cannot stop and it can be devastating.

It was not that they were paying attention, it was due to a restriction, the flow backed up so quick, that drivers approaching had no warning.

Now you could say if they were following their two second gap, that this would not happen……….. bollocks.

They know with automation in aviation, that the time it takes for a pilot to “Switch On” is the difference between a mid air incident and a crash and this “switch on” period is getting longer as automation increases.


So unsuspecting drivers are faced with the traffic, on the brow of a hill, the other side of a bend, in full emergency braking, as it is catching up everyone

With each person that is caught out, the increase in risk, the decrease in following distance escalates so quickly. And no driver is expecting this.

No one would, open motorway, cruising at 100kph. Then it just stops, with no explanation and the worst part, due to the crash containment policy of concrete walls and wire ropes, no one can even escape.
They just get corralled into the crash. Just like a piano accordion. Then it opens up, traffic clears and everyone is asking, “How did that happen”

Why being stuck on the side of the road is so dangerous

Why we hit cars parked on the side of the road. And why nose to tail crashes are such an issue.                                          These are both caused by the same issue.

We all have three fields of vision we alternate between,

  1. Close, how we read
  2. Tunnel, how we focus
  3. Peripheral, – our big picture

So, what happens, is people drive with close vision field, not their big picture peripheral vision field, why? No one taught them……

The average following distance when measured on any road is less than .5 second.

This is where people naturally look, think of walking down the footpath and it is broken, everything you do from here is our natural Threats Hazard Perception process.

Everything becomes a threat from this point, the car in front, the white line, the start of an intersection, the start of a corner, the car parked on the side of the motorway……….

We look to our next threat, we steer with our eyes and next thing, there is your crash!

Poor Policy

It sounds like a great idea, to legislate a lower speed limit around emergency workers. But a lack of understanding of these fundamentals means that the drivers that do get to see the threat (crew on side of road, tow truck, etc) can react accordingly

Those behind, only see a car braking for no reason.

They focus on the car braking and do not see anything else. (link on how our eyes work)

Then just like the piano accordion, it escalates so quickly as traffic compresses without anyone behind understanding why!

There was a major crash on the M1, 24.05.22  15 cars, six people hospitalised, not due to wet weather, not due to being irresponsible, not due to not following the road rules.

But due to poor driving

The fatal five are symptoms, not causes.

So how do we address it?

For Police, if booking someone, policy should be a follow me approach as used in other countries. A simple education program where the person simply follows the police car to the next exit and is pulled over away from traffic, in safety

Emergency services – honestly, by the time these people are required, the traffic is blocked for hours.

Breakdowns – Now this is interesting.

  1. Education program – this takes time, a clear set of directives.
  2. A vehicle that drives between exits, approaching the stranded vehicle. Travelling slower, (20kph than traffic flow) with a digital sign that gives drives warning and time to change lanes. This allows the stranded car to be removed.
  3. Get the car off the road, but this can be impossible when the lanes are corralled in with the very same crash strategy that is now causing the risk!)
  4. A driver education program.

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Graduates of Total Driver have a 400% reduction in accidents over the first 3 years of obtaining their license, in comparison to the national average*.

The question we ask all supervisors:

“Will you bet your child’s life you have the skills to teach the art of driving?”