17. Aug, 2015

Stolidity and Water on the Brain

Stolidus (Latin) adj. dull; stupid

 

On Tuesday 30 June Griffith University proudly announced an important new research study at the Menzies Health Institute - looking at the reasons why people drive their vehicles through potentially dangerous flood water.

The University noted that ‘during this year’s extreme weather events already there have been five deaths in Queensland and two in NSW as a result of people driving their cars through flood waters’. In the ten year period from 2002 to 2012, Royal Life Saving – Australia calculates that there have been over 130 drowning deaths as a result of flooding, and over half of these were due to cars being driven through flood waters.

“We already know that even driving a vehicle through 15 cm of water can cause it to become unstable; that’s aside from the fact that you wouldn’t know about any potential hazards underneath the water nor the condition of the road surface itself,” says study leader Dr Kyra Hamilton from Griffith’s Menzies Health Institute Queensland (MHIQ).[1]

Doubtless a very worthy study and no doubt in admirably capable hands, but one could save the good Dr. Hamilton a good deal of time and effort and save that money for something equally useful by providing her with an immediate answer to her question – the reason people drive through potentially dangerous flood water is that they are bloody fools.    

How can one reach this earth shattering conclusion?  

By asserting a simple set of criteria namely; cars are not boats and were in no manner, shape or form designed to traverse water;  and, if one cannot ‘see’ the road why drive on it? – would one drive deliberately into a river or ocean?

One could get technical and talk about mass, weight; current, buoyancy and so forth, if you get the drift. However, there is one vital element un-factored here, common sense. Given the frequency of warnings against driving into floodwaters; given the high media profile surrounding previous recent tragedies and given today’s explicit road signage, those that choose to treat their cars as amphibians are either singularly lacking in common sense i.e. bloody fools, or they’ve been living on another planet for the past several years.

Thus the crux of the matter – you can’t save people from themselves.

No matter how many regulations we enact, how many worksafe, drivesafe, besafe bodies we create; how much we spend on advertising in relation to safety there will always be the bloody fool – the short-cut taker, the risk taker, the dare-devil and, quite simply, the moronic brain-stolid dumbo’s.  Like the poor, the fools of the world will always be with us. 

There is a tendency in our caring, sharing, socially responsible and, equally to the point, litigious society, to be over protective. Nearly every aspect of our lives from our rising ‘till bedtime is covered by some manner of regulation – from the food we eat to the air we breathe. Much of this is of course is a ‘good’ thing. We expect governments to look after the interests and welfare of its citizens. But over-zealousness has a disturbing tendency to take away peoples sense of individual responsibility.

It is truly ironic that in the same week that the Brisbane located Griffith University announced its nanny state grant, Brisbane city celebrated the seventy-fifth birthday of its signature Story Bridge. To help celebrate the occasion Queensland’s flagship newspaper, the Courier Mail published a commemorative edition of Q Weekend entitled ‘The Crossing’ - the front-cover of which featured a photo of two riggers working at the apex of one of the towering arches – with nary a safety harness, hard-hat or  flouro safety vest in sight.  Just two riggers wearing handkerchief berets to protect from the sun perched atop a top girder wielding oversize spanners.

That photo spoke volumes.

…….



[1] Griffith News 30 June 2015   https://app.griffith.edu.au/news/2015/06/30/looking-at-why-people-take-risks-in-floods/