Why is Traffic so Bad? Who is to Blame?

August 22, 2016 2:08 am Published by

Ever sit there wondering what makes the traffic so bad? Ever ponder the thought is anyone doing anything about it? Ever think who is to blame?

If you are a Sydney sider you probably have thought about these questions at least once, for me I think about it a lot. You see traffic congestion causes a lot more than just a little frustration it affects everything we do. For instance it reduces our productivity, it impacts on our social and mental wellbeing and makes the possibility of life – work – balance near on impossible.

It is easy to blame the inadequate road system, that is for sure a big factor, whoever thought that the M5 tunnel should just be 2 lanes each way needs to give themselves a proverbial uppercut. Just saying…

Then we build motorways to relieve traffic pressure again with inadequate lanes for future volume (M7 motorway) and wonder why it experiences regular traffic snarls. Add to this the ever growing housing estates and new homes being built placing more strain on a system that frankly gave up the ghost the moment it was built and you have a recipe for disaster.


Or the fact that Sydney is built a bit like Rome was with all the major arteries heading to the CBD that is perched on a great big harbour placing a significant geographical obstacle in the way. But hey the view is awesome! We do like to, with plenty of justification blame the road system for the majority of our issues with traffic, fair enough. But how much do road users contribute to the problems we face? Wait what did I just say? Road users you ask? You mean us the drivers? Yes that is exactly what I mean!

Let me explain. How many times have you been stopped at a set of traffic lights, they go green and the car in front of you doesn’t move? Think about it. You blip the horn, their head lifts up from their naval where their phone was placed, and they suddenly drive off. Now you might argue that this is only a minor indiscretion, they were not actually driving the car so it was not unsafe, this is true and even though it is not as dangerous as a vehicle in motion, it is still downright illegal. Lets think about it though, the traffic was delayed because of their actions, less vehicles made it through the traffic lights as a result of that selfish drivers actions. Now play this scenario out across a city with over a million vehicles in motion at any one time. It impacts on your journey time without doubt.

The next big impact (pardon the pun) on traffic is motor vehicle accidents. We have all heard the radio reports, “5 vehicle pile up on the M4, traffic back to Prospect Highway” and Sydney’s West breathes a collective sigh, “here we go again”.


One driver’s actions or mistake costs thousands of people precious time, I say precious as ask any terminally ill person about time and they will tell you it is highly valued. This time is eaten away sitting behind the wheel in a conga line because some jerk crashed their vehicle, simple as that.

What I am referring to now isn’t anything other than driver competency, the distracted driver on the phone or the driver who just ‘snotted’ the back of the car in front because they were tailgating, who cares a crash is a crash is a crash!

Too often we are quick to blame everything else, but often driver behaviour is a huge contributor to heavy traffic congestion. This is where driver education is something that can help us as a society become safer and more productive. But only if drivers are going to take the driving task as a serious contribution to society and take responsibility for their own level of competency.

My belief is vehicles are so easy to drive these days some practically drive themselves that drivers are able to largely zone out and drop concentration or find a new distraction, their phone.

Our son recently started to learn to drive a manual vehicle, at age 16 and 11 months, he is getting close to going for the driving test and is already pretty comfortable with driving an automatic. The manual alternative has proved to be a huge eye opener for him and for me. We take for granted our ability to operate a vehicle and learning a new complexity of clutch, gear changing and engine revs is a challenge for a learner driver.

It was his comment to me that got me thinking though, he said “dad there is absolutely no way you could possibly try and text while driving a manual vehicle, you are just simply too busy”

This statement rings true, he is so focussed on changing gear correctly, using the clutch the right way and selecting the right gear he couldn’t possibly do any other task. For him to realise this is extraordinary and shows me that vehicles have become too easy to drive and perhaps taking the driving element out of driving reduces our competency and ultimately contributes to making you late for work! Driver training shows you that driving is a task we can’t take for granted, it is something we must do safely with a high level of competency. To lead drivers to believe otherwise is downright dangerous and is selling them short.

Safe Driving
Stewart Nicholls
Drive to Survive®

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