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Just 15 centimetres of water can float a car – but we are failing to educate drivers about the dangers of floodwaters

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/amy-peden-1136424">Amy Peden</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/unsw-sydney-1414">UNSW Sydney</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/kyra-hamilton-331594">Kyra Hamilton</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/griffith-university-828"><em>Griffith University</em></a></em></p> <p>Every year in Australia, people driving into floodwaters drown and many more are <a href="https://www.ses.nsw.gov.au/disaster-tabs-header/flood/">rescued</a>. Do <em>you</em> know what to do when there’s water on the road?</p> <p>We searched all state and territory learner and driver handbooks for information about floodwaters, including signage. Our findings, published in the <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022437524000860?via%3Dihub">Journal of Safety Research</a>, are disturbing.</p> <p>Across half of Australia’s states and territories, the driver handbook ignores flooding. That’s a missed opportunity, considering the handbook contains road rules and provides advice on how to navigate safely. While some states fail to provide any flood-related information, others give detailed practical guidance. Only the New South Wales handbook includes explanation of the meaning and purpose of flood signage.</p> <p>This is despite almost all states and territories experiencing vehicle-related flood <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1111/jfr3.12616">deaths</a>, including <a href="https://currents.plos.org/disasters/article/causal-pathways-of-flood-related-river-drowning-deaths-in-australia/">drowning</a>, between 2001 and 2017. It’s a major problem that is only going to get worse as the climate changes. So our research shows driver education needs to come up to speed, fast.</p> <h2>Why do people drive into floodwaters?</h2> <p>Our previous <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S2212420918301869">research</a> revealed motorists can feel compelled to drive into floodwaters for a range of reasons. These include time pressures such as being late for work or school, or needing to get home to family or pets. Sometimes they feel pressured by their passengers, or motorists behind them on the road, urging them to cross.</p> <p>People also report having been encouraged or instructed as learners to drive into floodwaters. Past experience as a passenger also influences a <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1369847823000475">learner driver’s</a> future willingness to drive into floodwaters.</p> <p>So the views of significant others, such as their supervising driver, strongly influence decisions around driving into floodwaters.</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/ZtlXpDBjU1Q?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe><figcaption><span class="caption">Avoid driving into floodwaters, for life’s sake.</span></figcaption></figure> <h2>What we did and what we found</h2> <p>We assessed all publicly available, government-issued learner and driver handbooks (12 documents) across all six Australian states and two territories. We also looked for flood-related signage. We used a method for reviewing online material through a systematic search including in-document key words and imagery.</p> <p>Four jurisdictions provided no information on flooding in the handbook. In the ACT, South Australia, Tasmania and Victoria, drivers need to look elsewhere for information on floodwaters and driving safety.</p> <p>Only one jurisdiction provided information on flood signage such as depth markers and “road subject to flooding”. Hats off to the <a href="https://www.nsw.gov.au/sites/default/files/2022-11/Road-User-Handbook-English.pdf">NSW Road User Handbook</a>, which warns:</p> <blockquote> <p>Floodwater is extremely dangerous. Find another way or wait until the road is clear. It’s safer to turn around than to drive in floodwater.</p> </blockquote> <p>For the states and territories that did provide information on floodwaters in the handbook, the content varied.</p> <p>NSW, Queensland and the Northern Territory warned against entering floodwaters in a vehicle. They highlighted the dangers and financial penalties associated with driving on closed roads.</p> <p>In the NT and Western Australia, handbooks provided practical information on when and how to cross floodwaters safely, such as how to gauge safe water depth based on vehicle size, and to avoid fast-flowing water.</p> <p>Although well-intentioned, judgements around what constitutes fast-flowing water are subjective and hard for any driver to assess, let alone learner drivers. Even drivers of larger vehicles such as four-wheel drives are regularly involved in flood-related <a href="https://currents.plos.org/disasters/article/causal-pathways-of-flood-related-river-drowning-deaths-in-australia/">vehicle drowning fatalities</a>.</p> <p>Just <a href="https://www.ses.vic.gov.au/news-and-media/campaigns/15-to-float">45cm</a> of water can float a large 4WD, and considerably less for smaller vehicles.</p> <figure><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/t4ilUbMXZAQ?wmode=transparent&amp;start=0" width="440" height="260" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe><figcaption><span class="caption">A small car can float in just 15cm of water.</span></figcaption></figure> <p>Handbooks represent valuable sources of safety information, particularly for new drivers who must learn important road rules to progress from one licence to another. Such graduated driver licensing schemes reduce road traffic injury, particularly among <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022437523000385">young people</a>.</p> <p>However, many of these handbooks fail to provide consistent, practical evidence-based information about flooding. There is an opportunity here to support safer driving behaviours.</p> <h2>Safety tips for all drivers</h2> <p>We encourage drivers to follow these safety tips:</p> <ul> <li>avoid driving into floodwaters</li> <li>identify alternative routes, so you have a <a href="https://theconversation.com/when-roads-become-rivers-forming-a-plan-b-can-stop-people-driving-into-floodwaters-183036">plan B</a></li> <li>familiarise yourself, and any learner drivers in the household or under your care, with the meaning and purpose of flood signage</li> <li>understand the legal consequences of crossing a road closed sign</li> <li>discuss the dangers of driving into floodwaters with learner drivers and help them formulate their own plan B</li> <li>model safe driving for all passengers, including children.</li> </ul> <h2>Time to lift our game</h2> <p>Driving into floodwaters remains the main cause of <a href="https://currents.plos.org/disasters/article/causal-pathways-of-flood-related-river-drowning-deaths-in-australia/">flood-related drowning</a> in Australia.</p> <p>For our emergency service personnel, driver behaviour, including people ignoring road closed signs, <a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/hpja.181">significantly complicates</a> the already dangerous act of performing a flood rescue.</p> <p>Extreme weather and flooding are likely to become more frequent and intense in the future. That means the chance of being faced with a flooded road is growing. So information about driving during floods is vital for all, from the newly licensed to the experienced driver.</p> <p>We hope our research will encourage all states and territories to include provide practical, evidence-based advice on floods in driver handbooks as soon as possible.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/233116/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/amy-peden-1136424">Amy Peden</a>, NHMRC Research Fellow, School of Population Health &amp; co-founder UNSW Beach Safety Research Group, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/unsw-sydney-1414">UNSW Sydney</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/kyra-hamilton-331594">Kyra Hamilton</a>, Associate Professor in Applied Psychology, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/griffith-university-828">Griffith University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/just-15-centimetres-of-water-can-float-a-car-but-we-are-failing-to-educate-drivers-about-the-dangers-of-floodwaters-233116">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

Travel Trouble

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Wellness is not women’s friend. It’s a distraction from what really ails us

<div class="theconversation-article-body"><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/kate-seers-1131296">Kate Seers</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/charles-sturt-university-849">Charles Sturt University</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/rachel-hogg-321332">Rachel Hogg</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/charles-sturt-university-849">Charles Sturt University</a></em></p> <p>Wellness is mainly marketed to women. We’re encouraged to eat clean, take <a href="https://www.instagram.com/p/CYqaatWPxvy/">personal responsibility</a> for our well-being, happiness and life. These are the hallmarks of a strong, independent woman in 2022.</p> <p>But on the eve of International Women’s Day, let’s look closer at this <a href="https://theconversation.com/how-neoliberalism-colonised-feminism-and-what-you-can-do-about-it-94856">neoliberal feminist</a> notion of wellness and personal responsibility – the idea women’s health and well-being depends on our individual choices.</p> <p>We argue wellness is not concerned with actual well-being, whatever wellness “guru” and businesswoman Gwyneth Paltrow <a href="https://goop.com/wellness/">suggests</a>, or influencers say on Instagram.</p> <p>Wellness is an industry. It’s also a seductive distraction from what’s really impacting women’s lives. It glosses over the structural issues undermining women’s well-being. These issues cannot be fixed by drinking a turmeric latte or #livingyourbestlife.</p> <h2>What is wellness?</h2> <p>Wellness <a href="https://globalwellnessinstitute.org/press-room/statistics-and-facts/">is an</a> unregulated US$4.4 trillion global industry due to reach almost $7 trillion by 2025. It promotes self-help, self-care, fitness, nutrition and spiritual practice. It <a href="https://globalwellnessinstitute.org/what-is-wellness/">encourages</a> good choices, intentions and actions.</p> <p>Wellness is alluring because it feels empowering. Women are left with a sense of control over their lives. It is particularly alluring in times of great uncertainty and limited personal control. These might be during a relationship break up, when facing financial instability, workplace discrimination or a global pandemic.</p> <p>But wellness is not all it seems.</p> <h2>Wellness blames women</h2> <p>Wellness implies women are flawed and need to be fixed. It demands women resolve their psychological distress, improve their lives and <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1360780418769673?journalCode=sroa">bounce back from adversity</a>, regardless of personal circumstances.</p> <p>Self-responsibility, self-empowerment and self-optimisation underpin how women are expected to think and behave.</p> <p>As such, wellness <a href="https://www.instagram.com/p/CZs2iIxrSwb/">patronises women</a> and <a href="https://www.instagram.com/p/CT3bw_Yhsp6/">micro-manages their daily schedules</a> with journaling, skin care routines, 30-day challenges, meditations, burning candles, yoga and lemon water.</p> <p>Wellness encourages women to improve their appearance through diet and exercise, manage <a href="https://www.instagram.com/p/CZ7IO7qJHZ_/">their surroundings</a>, <a href="https://www.businessnewsdaily.com/5489-female-leadership-advice.html">performance at work</a> and their capacity to <a href="https://www.apa.org/topics/covid-19/working-women-balance">juggle the elusive work-life balance</a> as well as <a href="https://medium.com/authority-magazine/having-a-positive-mental-attitude-and-thinking-process-is-a-successful-key-to-healthy-wellbeing-ae11e303969c">their emotional responses</a> <a href="https://theconversation.com/planning-stress-and-worry-put-the-mental-load-on-mothers-will-2022-be-the-year-they-share-the-burden-172599">to these pressures</a>. They do this with support from costly life coaches, psychotherapists and self-help guides.</p> <p>Wellness demands women <a href="https://www.instagram.com/p/CaFc2o7OHSf/">focus on their body</a>, with one’s body a measure of their commitment to the task of wellness. Yet this ignores how much these choices and actions cost.</p> <p>Newsreader and journalist Tracey Spicer <a href="https://www.instagram.com/p/CaDh28nBp4k/">says</a> she has spent more than A$100,000 over the past 35 years for her hair to “look acceptable” at work.</p> <p>Wellness keeps women <a href="https://www.hercampus.com/school/bu/the-male-gazes-effect-from-beauty-ideals-to-mental-health/">focused on their appearance</a> and keeps them spending.</p> <p>It’s also <a href="https://medium.com/artfullyautistic/the-dark-reality-of-wellness-culture-and-ableism-307307fcdafb">ableist</a>, <a href="https://www.byrdie.com/wellness-industry-whitewashing-5074880">racist</a>, <a href="https://msmagazine.com/2020/07/16/tools-of-the-patriarchy-diet-culture-and-how-we-all-perpetuate-the-stigma/">sexist</a>, <a href="https://www.self.com/topic/anti-aging">ageist</a> and <a href="https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/on-the-inside/422517/the-pursuit-of-wellness-wellness-is-for-the-wealthy">classist</a>. It’s aimed at an ideal of young women, thin, white, middle-class and able-bodied.</p> <h2>But we can’t live up to these ideals</h2> <p>Wellness assumes women have equal access to time, energy and money to meet these ideals. If you don’t, “<a href="https://www.theguardian.com/society/2021/may/08/the-self-help-cult-of-resilience-teaches-australians-nothing">you’re just not trying hard enough</a>”.</p> <p>Wellness also <a href="https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1360780418769673?journalCode=sroa">implores women</a> to be “adaptable and positive”.</p> <p>If an individual’s #positivevibes and wellness are seen as <a href="https://ideas.ted.com/why-we-should-say-no-to-positivity-and-yes-to-our-negative-emotions/">morally good</a>, then it becomes morally necessary for women to engage in behaviours framed as “investments” or “self-care”.</p> <p>For those who do not achieve self-optimisation (hint: most of us) this is a personal, shameful failing.</p> <h2>Wellness distracts us</h2> <p>When women believe they are to blame for their circumstances, it hides structural and cultural inequities. Rather than questioning the culture that marginalises women and produces feelings of doubt and inadequacy, wellness provides solutions in the form of superficial empowerment, confidence and resilience.</p> <p>Women don’t need wellness. They are unsafe.</p> <p><a href="https://www.ourwatch.org.au/quick-facts/">Women are</a> <a href="https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/people/crime-and-justice/personal-safety-australia/latest-release">more likely</a> to be murdered by a current or former intimate partner, with reports of the <a href="https://theconversation.com/what-governments-can-do-about-the-increase-in-family-violence-due-to-coronavirus-135674">pandemic increasing</a> the risk and severity of <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/society/2020/dec/01/the-worst-year-domestic-violence-soars-in-australia-during-covid-19">domestic violence</a>.</p> <p>Women are more likely to be employed in unstable <a href="https://lighthouse.mq.edu.au/article/april-2020/Pandemics-economic-blow-hits-women-hard">casualised labour, and experience economic hardship and poverty</a>. Women are also bearing the brunt <a href="https://grattan.edu.au/report/womens-work/">of the economic fallout from COVID</a>. Women are more likely to be juggling a career with <a href="https://www.bmj.com/content/374/bmj.n1972">unpaid domestic duties</a> and more likely <a href="https://www.mercyfoundation.com.au/our-focus/ending-homelessness/older-women-and-homelessness/">to be homeless</a> as they near retirement age.</p> <p>In their book <a href="https://www.dukeupress.edu/confidence-culture#:%7E:text=They%20argue%20that%20while%20confidence,responsible%20for%20their%20own%20conditions.">Confidence Culture</a> UK scholars Shani Orgad and Rosalind Gill argue hashtags such as #loveyourbody and #believeinyourself imply psychological blocks, rather than entrenched social injustices, are what hold women back.</p> <h2>What we should be doing instead</h2> <p>Wellness, with its self-help rhetoric, <a href="http://www.consultmcgregor.com/documents/research/neoliberalism_and_health_care.pdf">absolves the government</a> of responsibility to provide transformative and effectual action that ensures women are safe, delivered justice, and treated with respect and dignity.</p> <p>Structural inequity was not created by an individual, and it will not be solved by an individual.</p> <p>So this International Women’s Day, try to resist the neoliberal requirement to take personal responsibility for your wellness. Lobby governments to address structural inequities instead.</p> <p><a href="https://www.mindful.org/why-women-should-embrace-their-anger/">Follow your anger</a>, not your bliss, call out injustices when you can. And in the words of sexual assault survivor and advocate Grace Tame, “make some noise”.<!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/kate-seers-1131296">Kate Seers</a>, PhD Candidate, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/charles-sturt-university-849">Charles Sturt University</a> and <a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/rachel-hogg-321332">Rachel Hogg</a>, Lecturer in Psychology, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/charles-sturt-university-849">Charles Sturt University</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Shutterstock </em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/wellness-is-not-womens-friend-its-a-distraction-from-what-really-ails-us-177446">original article</a>.</em></p> </div>

Mind

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Roadside cameras set to target more infringements

<p>Millions of Aussie drivers are being warned as authorities expand the number of infringements being targeted by roadside cameras. </p> <p>The technology, initially used to detect mobile phone use, will now target new road rules. </p> <p>"The laws were brought in and this technology was brought in as a preventative measure ... to stop people getting behind the wheel and taking risks that jeopardise the safety of others," NRMA head of media told <em>Yahoo News. </em></p> <p>"The road toll is terrible nationally in Australia ... So we need to do everything we can to reduce risks on our roads."</p> <p>In NSW authorities are expanding the capabilities of their roadside mobile-detection cameras. </p> <p>From July 1 the cameras will be able to catch drivers wearing their seatbelt incorrectly. </p> <p>This comes after Queensland reportedly became the first jurisdiction in the world to roll out seatbelt-spotting detection along with mobile-detection. </p> <p>Last year, Victoria also rolled out dual mobile phone and seatbelt detection cameras last year after a two year trial.</p> <p>No grace period will be granted when they issue the seatbelt fines. </p> <p>"The expansion of mobile phone detection cameras to also apply to seatbelt offences reinforces the NSW Government’s commitment to enforcing the 50-year-old seatbelt law, actively contributing to improving road safety and reducing fatalities on NSW roads," a statement read on their official website. </p> <p>The department told Yahoo that all images captured by roadside cameras are automatically reviewed by software. </p> <p>Those that do not contain evidence of an offence will have their images deleted within an hour. </p> <p>Drivers in the ACT will need to make sure they have proper insurance and registration.</p> <p>From August, the roadside cameras alongside speed cameras and red light cameras will be used to send hefty fines to those driving without proper registration or insurance. </p> <p>Those caught by the cameras will have their paperwork manually checked by transport staff. </p> <p>An infringement for driving an unregistered vehicle in the ACT is $700 while the fine for driving an uninsured car is $973. </p> <p>The mobile detection cameras could also soon be programmed to detect speeding in the ACT. </p> <p>In South Australia, authorities began testing overhead mobile detection cameras at four busy locations in April, fines are currently not being issued, but the grace period is due to finish on June 19. </p> <p>Drivers caught using their phones in Adelaide will be fined $540 and three demerit points. </p> <p><em>Image: </em><em>Stepan Skorobogadko / Shutterstock.com</em></p>

Travel Trouble

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Motorist fined $387 for "handling wallet" while driving

<p>A motorist has collapsed after receiving a fine for $387, in which the fine claims he was holding his phone while driving. </p> <p>Sydney man Husni Tarmizi opened the infringement notice with his 62-year-old dad on Tuesday and admitted he was both "surprised" and "panicked" by the fine, leaving Husni to pick his father up off the floor after he collapsed from shock. </p> <p>Husni was confused by the fine, which also cost his dad 10 demerit points, as his father is rarely on his phone, and decided to take a closer look at the image captured by the mobile detection camera. </p> <p>"I went to the computer and downloaded the image and I could see clearly that it's a wallet [in his hand], you can see his phone is in the cradle," he told <a href="https://au.news.yahoo.com/driver-fined-387-and-cops-10-demerit-points-for-handling-wallet-while-driving-073557336.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><em>Yahoo News</em></a>.</p> <p>"In his left hand you can see the wallet and his right hand he's holding a $50 bill."</p> <p>Husni continued, "He was quite panicked, especially with the 10 demerit points... and I was scared a bit because he has a heart condition."</p> <p>The 62-year-old man said he recalls holding onto his wallet and the $50 note to pay for petrol over the Easter long weekend, which explains the hefty loss of demerit points.</p> <p>Tarmizi confirmed he has already appealed the infringement and is awaiting a response after people urged him to dispute it.</p> <p>"I've also written an appeal, it's called a review request, we'll see how that goes," he said.</p> <p>"For the older generation where they don't understand the technologies and stuff, it's scary."</p> <p><em>Image credits: Husni Tarmizi</em></p>

Legal

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AFP commander resigns after drink driving accident

<p>Former Australian Federal Police commander Danielle Anne Woodward has resigned after she drunkenly crashed her car into a tree following a police function in Canberra.</p> <p>The Olympic medalist pleaded guilty to a drink driving charge in the ACT Magistrates Court after blowing nearly three times the legal limit in November 2023. </p> <p>Woodward had attended an end-of-year function on the night of the accident, and intended to walk home or catch an Uber, but felt unwell after drinking champagne, so she decided to take the short drive back home. </p> <p>However, she crashed into a tree on her way home causing “extensive front-end damage” to her Mercedes-Benz. </p> <p>After getting help from members of the public, she immediately reported the incident to her supervisor and told him she had alcohol in her system.</p> <p>She also reportedly co-operated with lower-ranking officials who attended the scene, with the defence saying that she was "frank in her submission". </p> <p>"She was certainly not belligerent," Woodward's lawyer Michael Kukulies-Smith told the court. </p> <p>She was then arrested and taken to the police station for a breath analysis, which came back with a reading of 0.148. </p> <p>A police statement of facts also said that officers found Woodward with a flushed face and sleepy, watery eyes.</p> <p>“Police could smell a strong odour of intoxicating liquor emanating from [Woodward] and formed the opinion that [she] was well under the influence,” the statement of facts read. </p> <p>The court also heard that Woodward had been experiencing a "high level" of stress from her job, so had "at times resorted to alcohol, in a way she has been able to control."</p> <p>"The offending conduct is not only out of character … [but] her actions are usually the complete opposite. They're usually designed to benefit and protect the community," prosecutor Samuel Carmichael said.</p> <p>Woodward's lawyer asked Chief Magistrate Lorraine Walker to record a non-conviction, as this was a "one off" offence, and the media coverage of the accident had already caused her "an unusual degree of reputational damage", which has impacted her mental health and career. </p> <p>While Magistrate Walker agreed to a non-conviction, she said that a general deterrence still needed to be served, with Woodward disqualified from driving for six months, taking into account a 90-day immediate suspension notice that was issued after the crash.</p> <p>The Chief Magistrate told the court: "What ultimately influences me … is Ms Woodward is a woman suffering from ill health.</p> <p>"It is often people of good standing in this community … who find themselves before the court for this type of offence."</p> <p>She also said that Woodward had shown “obvious and palpable” remorse, and was not someone who would ordinarily demonstrate “this level of stupidity”. </p> <p>Woodward was a highly decorated police officer who worked for the AFP for almost four decades. She became a commander in 2022 and received a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) in 2002.</p> <p>In 2020 she was awarded the Australian Police Medal in the Australia Day honours. </p> <p>Prior to her role in the AFP, she was a a triple Olympian in slalom canoeing and won a silver medal at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. </p> <p><em>Image: ABC News</em></p>

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"Stuff youse": Pensioner who's never owned a phone fights mobile detection camera fine

<p>A pensioner from New South Wales has disputed a fine he was issued for using his phone while driving, despite never owning a phone. </p> <p>Frank Singh, 77, was captured on a mobile phone detection camera while driving on the Pacific Motorway last September, and was issued a fine for $362. </p> <p>Mr Singh has refused to pay the fine, claiming that he was holding his wallet when the image was captured. </p> <p>He also claims to have never owned a mobile phone or a computer in his life, wondering how the camera made such a mistake. </p> <p>The senior man decided to appeal and take Revenue NSW to court, despite the risk of paying thousands in legal fees if he lost the case.</p> <p>"Looks like I'm guilty on it, but I'm not," he told <em>A Current Affair</em>. </p> <p>"I thought, what the bloody hell is this all about, I don't own a mobile phone. I've never used a mobile phone. What a load of s***."</p> <p>When questioned what the item could be, he said, "I think it could be my wallet."</p> <p>While Mr Singh admitted he can't specifically remember what he was doing at the time, he believes he was possibly placing his wallet on the passenger seat after paying for fuel. </p> <p>Unfortunately, the review of the fine was rejected and Frank was ordered to pay the $362, but he has not given up. </p> <p>"Then I thought stuff youse, I'm not guilty, I don't own a bloody phone," he said.</p> <p>While preparing to appeal the fine once more, Revenue NSW revoked the fine after issuing a letter to Mr Singh saying he would not be required in court following an investigation by the government body. </p> <p>"We have decided to cancel the fine," the letter read. </p> <p>"You little bloody beauty, how good's that," Mr Singh said on hearing the news, before planning to celebrate the win with a beer at his local pub. </p> <p><em>Image credits: A Current Affair </em></p>

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Eagle-eyed motorists spot funny typo on "confusing" new interchange

<p>The new interchange at Rozelle, in Sydney's inner west, has already copped backlash just days after its opening,  because of the confusing signage and changed traffic conditions causing chaos among commuters. </p> <p>Now, motorists have spotted another awkward blunder at the bustling "spaghetti junction", intended to improve traffic. </p> <p>Just metres away from the main intersection along Victoria Road and Darling Street, some poor road worker made the same typo twice, in a left-hand turn lane.</p> <p>Instead of saying  "buses excepted", they painted "buses expected", and now their mistake has gone viral on social media. </p> <p>"If I was a road, I'd expect buses too," one joked.</p> <p>"I get my bus near there and I'm constantly expecting buses that don't show, so seems accurate," another quipped. </p> <p>The interchange itself has been years in the making and opened up on Sunday. </p> <p>It was intended to connect drivers to the M4 and M8 tunnels, the City West Link, the Western Distributor and give access to the Anzac Bridge with a toll-free bypass of Victoria Road. </p> <p>While the aim of it was to improve traffic flow, just four days after its opening locals are still complaining about the chaotic strip, specifically it's poorly designed signage that has reportedly baffled drivers. </p> <p>One of the new signs suggested there was a toll from Iron Cove Bridge to Anzac Bridge, and while it is actually free, commuters are avoiding the tunnel and trying to switch across multiple roads to avoid presumed fee. </p> <p>Earlier this week, NSW Premier Chris Minns said: "Clearly it's confusing, that spaghetti junction is difficult to navigate and a lot of cars' GPS haven't caught up.</p> <p>"We'll change that sign and I understand the Minister for Roads is putting up those portable electronic signs to show people that you can use that road in particular and not pay the toll."</p> <p><em>Images: Twitter/ 9News</em></p>

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Channel 10 newsreader admits to driving while four times over the legal limit

<p>Natasha Exelby, a well-known journalist and former Channel 10 newsreader, recently found herself in the spotlight for an entirely different reason than her on-air mishap in 2017.</p> <p>On a fateful day last June, she was involved in a drink driving incident in Toorak, Melbourne. This incident marked a low point in her life, but it also sheds light on the profound impact of mental health struggles and the road to recovery.</p> <p>Exelby, 34, appeared before the Melbourne Magistrates' Court and made a candid admission: she had driven while suspended and under the influence of alcohol, registering a blood alcohol concentration of .220, over four times the legal limit. She narrowly escaped conviction but didn't escape the consequences of her actions.</p> <p>In her statement to the <a href="https://www.heraldsun.com.au/truecrimeaustralia/police-courts-victoria/journalist-natasha-exelby-busted-drink-driving-after-crashing-into-parked-car-while-four-times-over-legal-limit/news-story/f710cdbc849622fb4e298b61c049c1f3" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Herald Sun</a>, Exelby took full responsibility for her actions, citing her ongoing battle with major depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. She courageously acknowledged her struggles and the role they played in her regrettable choices that day.</p> <p>"It's no secret that I've suffered from major depression and post-traumatic stress disorder for many years," she said. "At the time of the incident, I was going through a very dark period with multiple medication changes. Never in my life did I think I would be capable of what happened but regardless of my mental health, my actions were shocking beyond words and I take full responsibility."</p> <p>Her journey towards this dark moment was marked by openness about her mental health. In September 2022, she appeared on Studio 10, where she revealed the depths of her internal battles. She discussed experiencing episodes of inexplicable crying, a common symptom of depression. This revelation was crucial in the context of R U OK? Day, emphasizing the importance of checking on the well-being of those around us.</p> <p>Natasha's admission serves as a stark reminder that mental health issues are every bit as valid as physical ailments. She compared her experience with depression to "drowning" and disclosed that she had been on medication and in therapy for major depression for years. Her message is clear: it's okay to seek help when battling these internal demons, and recovery is possible, even if it's a long and winding road.</p> <p>Exelby's struggle with mental health is by no means a recent development. She revealed that she had been dealing with major depression since the age of 15, highlighting the enduring nature of the condition. Her story is an inspiration for others who are going through similar challenges, proving that there is light at the end of the tunnel, even when it feels like the journey will never end.</p> <p>Before her battle with depression and her recent legal troubles, Exelby made headlines in 2017 for an <a href="https://www.news.com.au/entertainment/tv/flashback/one-year-later-why-natasha-exelby-isnt-haunted-by-abc-blooper/news-story/24398919d522c0029e6d7963f165897d" target="_blank" rel="noopener">on-air gaffe</a> during an ABC news broadcast. Despite the initial shock, she took the incident in stride, even finding humour in it and acknowledging the role that social media and celebrities like Russell Crowe played in making the video go viral. It was a moment of resilience and self-awareness that foreshadowed her future ability to face her own mental health struggles.</p> <p>Exelby's open honesty, her admission of her mistakes and her ongoing battle with mental health challenges is a reminder that anyone can face difficulties, regardless of their public persona. By sharing her experiences, Exelby is contributing to the ongoing conversation about mental health, helping to break down the stigma that often surrounds it.</p> <p><em>Images: Instagram</em></p>

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Common car act could cost touchy drivers a hefty fine

<p>A worried driver has shared his concerns over being slapped with a potential fine after being caught holding his girlfriend's hand while driving. </p> <p>The man questioned whether the hand holding warranted a fine, after the couple passed a road safety camera in the "compromising" position. </p> <p>“Me and my girlfriend were holding hands and there was a camera on the left side, will they fine me?” the poster anonymously posted in a Facebook group for discussions about mobile phone detection camera locations in Australia.</p> <p>Online responses were varied from commenters, as many thought he driver could attract a fine as the act could be misconstrued as a more serious offence. </p> <p>One person wrote, “Was there a (mobile phone) between your hand and your girlfriends?" while another cheekily added “As long as she was just holding your hand.”</p> <p>But while some people mocked the question, others were closer to the mark, writing, “Holding her hand is no problem other than you may not have had effective control of the vehicle.”</p> <p>“Both hands on the steering wheel is my take on it,” another said.</p> <p>While police and transport authorities confirmed to <a href="https://7news.com.au/travel/driving/common-driving-act-that-could-cost-romantic-drivers-up-to-514-c-12217058" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><em>7News</em></a> that no specific rule exists for holding hands, if the hand-holding is deemed to constitute a failure to maintain proper control of a motor vehicle, that would be an offence under Australian Road Rule 297 of the Road Traffic Act 1961.</p> <p>The rule is observed nationally, but not all states fine offending motorists equally.</p> <p>Those who are caught red-handed could be fined between $215 and $514 depending on where they are.</p> <p>A Department of Transport and Main Roads spokesperson said that drivers should use their best judgement, saying, “Drivers must also drive with care and attention, as there are significant penalties for more serious offending.”</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p>

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10 driving tips to stay safe in wet weather

<p><strong>Driving in the rain? Follow these tips for safe driving in wet weather </strong></p> <p>This should go without saying, but reducing your speed – as long as you continue to keep with the flow of traffic, of course – is imperative when driving in the rain.</p> <p>After all, between the downpour and spray from other vehicles, heavy rain reduces visibility in all directions, and you need more time to react.</p> <p><strong>Keep your distance </strong></p> <p>Driving in the rain can be hazardous, and if ever there is an incident that requires you – or the driver in front you – to brake unexpectedly, you’ll want to have ample stopping distance on wet roads.</p> <p><strong>Avoid heavy breaking </strong></p> <p>While driving in the rain, you may find yourself in situations – whether you’re hydroplaning or finding yourself in a skid – that will tempt you to hit the brakes abruptly. Do your best to curb that impulse.</p> <p>Brakes can be affected greatly by water, losing a bit of their power when wet, which can be disastrous in an emergency. Easing off the brakes, slowing down and maintaining control of your vehicle is your best bet.</p> <p><strong>Keep both hands on the wheel </strong></p> <p>Control is of utmost importance when driving in the rain. After all, you need to be in command of your vehicle should an incident occur, and having both hands on the wheel while driving in the rain (no snacking or fiddling with the radio!) will ensure you can get out of a sticky situation quickly and efficiently.</p> <p><strong>Keep windows from fogging up</strong></p> <p>When driving in rain, windows tend to fog up as a result of the difference in temperatures inside and outside the car and can lead to decreased visibility. To stay safe and avoid accidents, simply press your car’s defrost button to clear-up the window.</p> <p>Turn on your A/C or roll down the windows by a couple of centimetres to remove the humidity from the vehicle and lower the temperature inside the car. If the issue persists, you may want to purchase a windshield cleaner and defogger.</p> <p><strong>Beware of hydroplaning </strong></p> <p>Hydroplaning happens when your car travels above the water without touching the ground. Given that a driver is left with little-to-no grip with the road and, thus, less control, this can be a dangerous set of circumstances. If you find yourself in such a situation, stay calm, ease off the brakes and do not turn your steering wheel; let your car slow down and the tires reattach to the road surface.</p> <p><strong>Avoid puddles</strong></p> <p>Windshield wipers should always be in working condition. Be vigilant about replacing them once per year, or whenever they start to leave streaks on the glass. Having wipers blades in tip-top shape ensures the best possible visibility when driving in the rain.</p> <p><strong>Stay home if you can </strong></p> <p>If you have no choice but to head outside during a heavy downpour, be sure to follow these driving tips. However, if you don’t have anywhere pressing to be, consider staying home and waiting it out until the storm subsides.</p> <p><strong>Keep your headlights on</strong></p> <p>With wet weather often comes fog and overall gloominess. With your surroundings slightly darkened, turning on your headlights ensures that you can see the road in front of you, and that other drivers can see you.</p> <p><strong>Ensure windshield wipers are in working order</strong></p> <p>Windshield wipers should always be in working condition. Be vigilant about replacing them once per year, or whenever they start to leave streaks on the glass. Having wipers blades in tip-top shape ensures the best possible visibility when driving in the rain.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/food-home-garden/home-tips/10-driving-tips-to-stay-safe-in-wet-weather" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Reader's Digest</a>. </em></p>

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Past charges against mushroom poisoning suspect uncovered

<p>Erin Patterson, the woman under investigation for allegedly cooking the deadly mushroom meal that claimed the lives of three people, has previously faced a series of charges after being involved in a drunk-driving incident.</p> <p>According to reports from The Australian, the 49-year-old was convicted in 2004 of driving drunk in an unregistered vehicle. </p> <p>Court records have revealed that Patterson, who was then known as Erin Trudi Scutter and was aged 29, faced legal consequences for her reckless actions, losing her license for 30 months after crashing her vehicle in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne while heavily intoxicated.</p> <p>The reports revealed that after the crash, she fled from authorities by speeding away from the crash scene, reaching 95 km/h in a 60 km/h zone.</p> <p>The convictions that were handed down were for charges of failing to stop a vehicle after an accident, failing to provide identifying information after causing property damage, using an unregistered vehicle on a highway, failing to provide information after property damage, and driving at 95 km/h in a restricted 60 km/h zone.</p> <p>At the time of the crash, Erin's blood alcohol level was 0.14 per cent, indicating significant impairment, however the charges of drink driving were dropped, potentially due to overlapping elements in other charges.</p> <p>Patterson has yet to comment on the previous charges, after being advised by her lawyer not to make any public comments as she remains under investigation for the deadly mushroom meal. </p> <p>She has <a href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/finance/legal/details-of-erin-patterson-s-police-statement-around-fatal-mushroom-meal-revealed" target="_blank" rel="noopener">denied any wrongdoing</a> in the mushroom incident, although according to police, they are investigating Patterson because she was the only adult among five who did not either die or suffer severe illness after ingesting the deadly mushrooms.</p> <p><em>Image credits: A Current Affair</em></p>

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Police lie in wait for Kyle Sandilands after on-air boasts

<p>Well, well, well, it seems like Kyle Sandilands has become quite the sensation among the law enforcement agencies.</p> <p>This Tuesday morning was no ordinary day for the radio star, as he drove into KIIS FM's studios only to find himself caught in a wild ambush by the cops. Yes, you read that right!</p> <p>In a video that was later shared on The Kyle and Jackie O Show's Instagram account, viewers were shown several police officers patiently waiting for Sandilands to arrive at the ungodly hour of 5:30 am. </p> <p>As Kyle stepped out of his luxurious $250,000 Cadillac Escalade Platinum 4WD, the officers approached him, ready to take action. But wait – it turns out this encounter wasn't your typical traffic stop. In fact, it was all about Kyle's on-air shenanigans!</p> <p>The station's employees spilled the beans, revealing that the police had a little chat with them while they eagerly waited for Kyle's arrival. Turns out, the boys in blue just wanted to have a friendly discussion with the father-of-one about his knack for making outrageous comments on the radio. </p> <p>"The highway patrol dude[s], they've come out and they've said, 'Listen, we've heard you on the air saying you think the coppers are after you," said Kyle. "And they've come out to tell me they're not after me."</p> <p>Kyle, being the smooth talker that he is, managed to talk himself out of any real trouble, with the audio recording from the station capturing his finesse in action. </p> <p>But here's the kicker: he didn't entirely believe their explanation. In fact, he expressed concern about his dwindling points on his driver's license, mentioning that he only had four left. </p> <p>However, the encounter did not end in tears or sirens blaring. In a surprising turn of events, Kyle decided to call one officer's fiancée, who happened to be a fan of the show, just to tell her that she had landed herself "a good one" in her law enforcement beau. Smooth move, Kyle, smooth move!</p> <p>Now, let's rewind to 2021 when Sandilands confessed to accumulating a whopping $16,000 worth of fines in just one year. He practically treats parking fines like they're going out of style.</p> <p>During a lively conversation with his manager and pal, Bruno Bouchet, on The Kyle and Jackie O Show, Kyle spilled the beans on his parking escapades. Apparently, he has witnessed firsthand the magical art of getting away with parking violations. </p> <p>According to Bruno, there are a few parking rangers who are loyal fans of the show and would rather not deal with the hassle of booking Kyle. But Kyle takes his parking rebellion to the next level. He boldly declared, "I never buy a ticket, I say f**k the local council, I'm not paying you $4, screw yourself!"</p> <p>The numbers don't lie, and neither does Jackie O's shocked expression. Let's break down the fines, shall we? 18 fines for "parking continuously longer than indicated" racked up a bill of $2,088. Kyle's blatant disregard for stop signs earned him 25 violations, totalling $5,675. And if that wasn't enough, stopping in a loading zone like it's his personal VIP parking spot resulted in a staggering 42 charges, adding up to $8,148. The grand total for the year? A jaw-dropping $15,911!</p> <p>Naturally, Jackie couldn't hide her disbelief and told Kyle that it was a "waste of money." But Kyle had an explanation (or maybe an excuse?) up his sleeve. He admitted that sometimes he mistakes the ticket fines for Domino's flyers on his car window. Ah, the struggles of a wealthy and famous man!</p> <p>In the grand scheme of things, $16,000 is pocket change for Kyle, who reportedly rakes in a mind-boggling $5 million per year for hosting The Kyle and Jackie O Show.</p> <p>Well, there you have it, folks, a true rebel fighting against the system, one parking ticket at a time.</p> <p><em>Images: KIIS FM</em></p>

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"Who picks a fight with a rock star?" Jimmy Barnes confronts on-road "bully"

<p>Jimmy Barnes' wife Jane has ripped into a truck driver who "bullied" the couple on the road, with the driver attempting to "fight Jimmy on the roadside". </p> <p>Jane Barnes said the incident occurred on Wednesday night in the south Sydney suburb of Botany Bay, when the couple had been driving home from a charity event.</p> <p>In a furious thread on Twitter, Jane detailed the terrifying incident which resulted in the police being called.</p> <p>Jane wrote, "(He) cut us off across our lane and swiped our mirror, wanted to fight Jimmy on the roadside."</p> <p>"Trucks are like weapons, bullies behind the wheel a danger to us all," she wrote, alongside the hashtags #TOLL and #NOtobullies.  </p> <p>Jane then shared a photo of the truck drivers' side profile as he almost came to blows with the rockstar, as well as photos of the truck's license plate and the Barnes' car which shows the drivers' side wing mirror bent out of place. </p> <p>Jane went on to say the truckie had shared his details with the couple and that NSW Police had been called over the altercation. </p> <p>However, she said, officers "couldn't do much" if there were no injuries or damages.</p> <p>Jane's post drew in a wave of attention, with one fan asking, "Who picks a fight with a rock star?"</p> <p>Ms Barnes replied, "Shouldn't matter who it is. This guy was just a pig. Swearing, smug, ignorant, misogynist bully."</p> <p>The musician continued her rant on Instagram, writing, "When you drive a truck you're in charge of a weapon. A bully at the wheel can kill people."</p> <p>Many sent their sympathies to the couple, with some saying the tweet was "poignant" given the increase in accidents on Aussie roads. </p> <p><em>Image credits: Twitter</em></p>

Travel Trouble

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5 money mistakes that drive experts crazy and what to do instead

<p>Cost of living has hit us hard across the board, from interest rate rises through to inflation increasing the price of a weekly shop along with a range of goods and services. As a financial planner, I spend a lot of my time talking to clients about how to get the most value from their earnings. No matter the income level, there’s often key money mistakes people make that can have a real impact on their financial life in addition to the cost of living pressures. In good news, these can easily be fixed once you start paying attention to them. Let’s take a look at the 5 most common and how to solve them.</p> <p><strong>Thinking too short term</strong></p> <p>People generally spend more time on planning their holidays than to planning their financial lives. It's easy to fall into the trap of thinking to short-term. If we get paid weekly or fortnightly or monthly we tend to think about planning and spending in the same timeframe. There is real benefit though too having some medium and long term planning. Medium term planning is especially important for paying off debts and savings goals. Long term planning is especially important for your retirement planning including your superannuation and even paying off a home loan. </p> <p>So spend some time thinking about your medium and long term goals too. The average weekly wage in Australia is $1,769.80 per week.  Over 12 months that is $92,029.60. Over a 45 year working life that amount is over $4.1 million. That’s a lot of income! Respect your earnings and make a plan to make the most of it, not only in the short term, but the medium and long term too. </p> <p><strong>Not paying attention to your spending</strong></p> <p>As a financial planner I’ve genuinely lost count of the number of clients I’ve had sitting across the desk from me who earn great money but don't know where a great deal if it goes. They earn a good wage and they have a sense that things are going OK, because they think too short term. They also don’t pay attention to their spending. As a result they miss out on medium and long-term opportunities to make the most of their earnings. Paying attention to your spending doesn't mean that you have to give up the things you love for example a morning coffee on your way to work either. </p> <p>Paying attention to your spending is not like being on a diet. It’s not about going without. It’s about making sure when you do spend your hard earned money you shop around to try and get the best value you can. Credit cards, loans, car insurance, mobile phones, electricity bills and health insurance are all regular expenses most people have. They should however never be set and forget. Find better value and pay attention to your spending. It will give you the opportunity to save and invest more and achieve your goals sooner.</p> <p><strong>Being uninterested in interest rates</strong></p> <p>Ask anyone with a home loan right now and they will tell you about the impact of rising interest rates on their life. Interest is the cost of money. If you’re a lender, it’s what you pay for borrowing money. It might be a short-term loan like a credit card, a medium-term loan like a personal loan for a car, or a long-term loan to help you buy a mortgage. If you’re an investor interest also matters. Let’s say you’ve saved $50,000 and were getting a 4% return, that’s an extra $2,000 a year on top of your current wage or salary. I’m sure there’s lots you could do with that money.</p> <p>Regardless if you’re a borrower or an investor, the interest rate you’re paying or earning matters. Over time, interest adds up. Over 5 years, for example, that $2,000 becomes $10,000, plus there’s interest earned on the interest too. If you’ve got debt pay it back as quickly as you can comfortably afford to. And if you’re about to get a debt, factor in a few additional interest rate rises. It is really important to make sure you stress-test your ability to pay back the loan under higher interest rates. </p> <p><strong>Not keeping it real</strong></p> <p>Most things we do in life have a financial consequence and it’s important to keep it real. I spend a great of my time as a financial planner asking people what really matters to them. Is life really about showing off to family and friends new purchases on Instagram? Probably not. Having a focus on your own goals makes a world of difference. It provides you with something that can drive you forward. One of the real dangers of the social media world we live in today, especially for younger Australians is the desire to keep up with their friends. What they often don’t see is the financial stress their friends are putting themselves under to have everything right now or the difficult conversations behind closed doors about how to keep it going or reduce the financial stress they’re not telling you about.</p> <p>Your only obligation in your adult financial life is to yourself, your spouse and your kids if you have them. Being overconfident is just as dangerous for your financial health as being too under confident in your financial life. Being overconfident may make you take too much risk. Being too conservative might mean you miss out on opportunities. At the end of the day you need to find the right balance for you and make sure the goals you set and the financial decisions you make are within your own comfort zone. </p> <p><strong>Forgetting to reward and celebrate success along the way</strong></p> <p>If you’re going to set yourself some medium and long-term goals, pay attention to your spending and interest rates as well as keeping it real, then you also need to reward yourself along the way. Rewarding yourself for achieving goals makes setting goals much easier. And if you’ve got medium and long term goals like paying off a car loan, paying down the mortgage or saving into super for your retirement, celebrate key milestones. For example it might be going out for a nice dinner or getting concert tickets for every $25,000 that’s saved into super or paid off a home loan.</p> <p>Your financial life done well shouldn’t be a chore or a bore. If it is you’re doing it wrong. Spend some time and energy to rethink your financial life, learn more about how money works and go forward more confidently to achieve your goals. </p> <p><strong><em>Luke Smith is a licensed Australian financial planner and author of the new book, Smart Money Strategy – Your Ultimate Guide to Financial Planning (Wiley, $34.95), published by Wiley. Luke is also the host of the popular podcast ‘The Strategy Stacker – Luke Talks Money’ and appears every Friday afternoon on Canberra’s 2CC. Find out more at <a href="http://www.thestrategystacker.com.au">www.thestrategystacker.com.au</a></em></strong></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p>

Money & Banking

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The Long and Winding Road

<p>Road-trip preparedness. If you're planning on taking a road-trip for your next holiday, think beyond your standard checklist. Snacks, music and emergency kits are necessities, but pre-planning and forget-them-not extras will make for smoother trails ahead.</p> <p><span style="box-sizing: border-box; border: 0px; font-family: Raleway, sans-serif, Arial; font-size: 16px; font-weight: 600; margin: 0px; outline: 0px; padding: 0px; vertical-align: baseline; color: #444444; background-color: #ffffff;">Safety</span><span style="color: #444444; font-family: Raleway, sans-serif, Arial; font-size: 16px; background-color: #ffffff;"> Don’t wait until the last minute to have your car tuned up if you’re taking your own. Many a trip has been delayed or cancelled due to maintenance issues. If you haven’t already got roadside assistance, sign up with your insurer.</span></p> <p style="box-sizing: border-box; border: 0px; font-family: Raleway, sans-serif, Arial; font-size: 16px; margin: 0px 0px 20px; outline: 0px; padding: 0px; vertical-align: baseline; color: #444444; background-color: #ffffff;"><span style="box-sizing: border-box; border: 0px; font-family: inherit; font-style: inherit; font-weight: 600; margin: 0px; outline: 0px; padding: 0px; vertical-align: baseline;">The right ride</span> Is your vehicle ideal for your trip? For maximum convenience, find one to match your itinerary. Opt for a fuel-efficient car for longer trips or get an all-wheel drive or four-wheel drive if you’re planning to explore back roads.</p> <p style="box-sizing: border-box; border: 0px; font-family: Raleway, sans-serif, Arial; font-size: 16px; margin: 0px 0px 20px; outline: 0px; padding: 0px; vertical-align: baseline; color: #444444; background-color: #ffffff;"><span style="box-sizing: border-box; border: 0px; font-family: inherit; font-style: inherit; font-weight: 600; margin: 0px; outline: 0px; padding: 0px; vertical-align: baseline;">Insurance</span> If you already own a vehicle but are choosing to rent another for the trip, talk to your insurance provider about adding to your plan if you’re not already covered.</p> <p style="box-sizing: border-box; border: 0px; font-family: Raleway, sans-serif, Arial; font-size: 16px; margin: 0px 0px 20px; outline: 0px; padding: 0px; vertical-align: baseline; color: #444444; background-color: #ffffff; text-align: center;"><span style="box-sizing: border-box; border: 0px; font-weight: 600; margin: 0px; outline: 0px; padding: 0px; vertical-align: baseline;">PACK SMART</span></p> <p style="box-sizing: border-box; border: 0px; font-family: Raleway, sans-serif, Arial; font-size: 16px; margin: 0px 0px 20px; outline: 0px; padding: 0px; vertical-align: baseline; color: #444444; background-color: #ffffff;"><span style="box-sizing: border-box; border: 0px; font-family: inherit; font-style: inherit; font-weight: 600; margin: 0px; outline: 0px; padding: 0px; vertical-align: baseline;">A road atlas</span> You’ll probably bring a smartphone or GPS unit, but electronics can get lost or break down, and there are always some spots where you can’t get a signal. Road atlases never fail.</p> <p style="box-sizing: border-box; border: 0px; font-family: Raleway, sans-serif, Arial; font-size: 16px; margin: 0px 0px 20px; outline: 0px; padding: 0px; vertical-align: baseline; color: #444444; background-color: #ffffff;"><span style="box-sizing: border-box; border: 0px; font-family: inherit; font-style: inherit; font-weight: 600; margin: 0px; outline: 0px; padding: 0px; vertical-align: baseline;">Stand-up comedy</span> When road trips don’t go as planned, moments of levity are scarce. Funny CDs or podcasts from your favourite comedian will release tension.</p> <p style="box-sizing: border-box; border: 0px; font-family: Raleway, sans-serif, Arial; font-size: 16px; margin: 0px 0px 20px; outline: 0px; padding: 0px; vertical-align: baseline; color: #444444; background-color: #ffffff;"><span style="box-sizing: border-box; border: 0px; font-family: inherit; font-style: inherit; font-weight: 600; margin: 0px; outline: 0px; padding: 0px; vertical-align: baseline;">Refreshers</span> Wet wipes, travel-size deodorant and a small spritzer bottle full of water can bridge the gap until your next shower.</p> <p style="box-sizing: border-box; border: 0px; font-family: Raleway, sans-serif, Arial; font-size: 16px; margin: 0px 0px 20px; outline: 0px; padding: 0px; vertical-align: baseline; color: #444444; background-color: #ffffff;"> </p> <p style="box-sizing: border-box; border: 0px; font-family: Raleway, sans-serif, Arial; font-size: 16px; margin: 0px 0px 20px; outline: 0px; padding: 0px; vertical-align: baseline; color: #444444; background-color: #ffffff;"><span style="box-sizing: border-box; border: 0px; font-family: inherit; font-style: inherit; font-weight: 600; margin: 0px; outline: 0px; padding: 0px; vertical-align: baseline;">Sports equipment</span> A Frisbee, skipping ropes or bocce balls will motivate you to take regular breaks and get your blood flowing.</p> <p><em>Image credit: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><em>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/travel/road-trips/long-winding-road" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Reader's Digest</a>. </em></p>

Domestic Travel

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The truth about ‘illegal’ car snacks revealed

<p>Be it a long haul trip between towns, a coastal getaway, or an early morning Saturday sports run to the local oval, drivers all across Australia have found themselves steering to the drive-through or reaching in the Esky for a much-needed snack. </p> <p>And while rumours have swirled for years that such an act could put hungry drivers behind bars, they don’t have to fear any longer. Road rules may differ from state to state, but at the end of the drive, the answer remains the same: it isn’t illegal to eat while driving in Australia. </p> <p>There are, of course, various conditions that come along with the ruling, and most circle back to whether or not a driver is in complete control over their vehicle at the time of snacking. </p> <p>For example, in New South Wales, if you are found to have lost control of your vehicle due to eating, police officers have the power to impose a fine of $481 and three demerit points. </p> <p>In Victoria, there is no specific rule that prevents drivers from digging in on their drive. However, they can still receive a careless driving charge if eating is found to have a negative impact on either their concentration or their control over their vehicle. This charge comes with a penalty of $444 and - like New South Wales - three demerit points, as well as a maximum of 12 court penalty units if the driver is found guilty by a magistrate. </p> <p>The state of Queensland follows suit - it isn’t illegal there either, though “distracted driving” remains a real threat, with research even determining that eating can be just as dangerous as texting while behind the wheel. And drivers found to be travelling without control over their vehicles can face a fine of up to $575. While this is larger than either New South Wales or Victoria’s financial penalty, the demerit point cost remains the same at three. </p> <p>As a spokesperson for Queensland Transport and Main Roads told <em>Drive</em>, “a driver must always have proper control of their vehicle and drive with care and attention for the safety of other road users.</p> <p>"While there are no specific laws prohibiting a driver from eating while driving, it is up to the driver to ensure they remain in proper control of their vehicle and sufficiently alert to the road environment."</p> <p>And for drivers in the Northern Territory, the Australian Capital Territory, Tasmania, Western Australia, and South Australia, <em>Drive</em> have reported that the message essentially remains the same. While there are no rules that specifically prohibit behind-the-wheel snacking, a driver can - and will - face penalties if they are found to be demonstrating poor control of their vehicle.</p> <p><em>Images: Getty</em></p>

Travel Trouble

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We were told we’d be riding in self-driving cars by now. What happened to the promised revolution?

<p>According to <a href="https://electrek.co/2015/12/21/tesla-ceo-elon-musk-drops-prediction-full-autonomous-driving-from-3-years-to-2/">predictions</a> <a href="https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2016/09/lyfts-president-says-car-ownership-will-all-but-end-by-2025">made</a> nearly a decade ago, we should be riding around in self-driving vehicles today. It’s now clear the autonomous vehicle revolution was overhyped.</p> <p>Proponents woefully underestimated the technological challenges. It turns out developing a truly driverless vehicle is hard.</p> <p>The other factor driving the hype was the amount of money being invested in autonomous vehicle startups. By 2021, it was estimated more than <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2022/02/04/self-driving-cars-why/">US$100 billion</a> in venture capital had gone into developing the technology.</p> <p>While advances are being made, it is important to understand there are multiple levels of autonomy. Only one is truly driverless. As established by <a href="https://www.sae.org/blog/sae-j3016-update">SAE International</a>, the levels are:</p> <ul> <li> <p>level 0 — the driver has to undertake all driving tasks</p> </li> <li> <p>level 1, hands on/shared control — vehicle has basic driver-assist features such as cruise control and lane-keeping</p> </li> <li> <p>level 2, hands off – vehicle has advanced driver-assist features such as emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, auto park assist and traffic-jam assist</p> </li> <li> <p>level 3, eyes off — vehicle drives itself some of the time</p> </li> <li> <p>level 4, mind off — vehicle drives itself most of the time</p> </li> <li> <p>level 5, steering wheel option — vehicle drives itself all the time.</p> </li> </ul> <h2>Why the slow progress?</h2> <p>It’s estimated the technology to deliver safe autonomous vehicles is about <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2022/mar/27/how-self-driving-cars-got-stuck-in-the-slow-lane">80% developed</a>. The last 20% is increasingly difficult. It will take a lot more time to perfect.</p> <p>Challenges yet to be resolved involve unusual and rare events that can happen along any street or highway. They include weather, wildlife crossing the road, and highway construction.</p> <p>Another set of problems has emerged since <a href="https://www.forbes.com/sites/simonmainwaring/2022/08/22/cruise-ride-hailing-goes-green-and-driverless/?sh=6a7439376843">Cruise</a> and <a href="https://www.theverge.com/2022/11/19/23467784/waymo-provide-fully-driverless-rides-san-francisco-california">Waymo</a> launched their autonomous ride-hailing services in San Francisco. The US National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration <a href="https://techcrunch.com/2022/12/16/cruises-autonomous-driving-tech-comes-under-scrutiny-from-safety-regulators/">opened an investigation</a> in December 2022, only six months after the <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2022/jun/03/california-driverless-taxi-cars-san-francisco">services were approved</a>. It cited incidents where these vehicles “may have engaged in inappropriately hard braking or became immobilized”.</p> <p>The San Francisco County Transportation Authority <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2023/02/01/technology/self-driving-taxi-san-francisco.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener">stated</a>, "[I]n the months since the initial approval of autonomous taxi services in June 2022, Cruise AVs have made unplanned and unexpected stops in travel lanes, where they obstruct traffic and transit service and intrude into active emergency response scenes, including fire suppression scenes, creating additional hazardous conditions."</p> <p>In several cases, Cruise technicians had to be called to move the vehicles.</p> <h2>What’s happening now?</h2> <p>Active autonomous vehicle initiatives can be grouped into two categories: ride-hailing services (Cruise, Waymo and Uber) and sales to the public (Tesla).</p> <p>Cruise is a subsidiary of General Motors founded in 2013. As of September 2022, it operated 100 robotaxis in San Francisco and had plans to increase its fleet to 5,000. Critics said this would increase city traffic.</p> <p>Cruise also began to offer services in Chandler (a Phoenix suburb), Arizona, and Austin, Texas, in December 2022.</p> <p>Waymo, formerly the Google Self-Driving Car Project, was founded in January 2009. The company lost <a href="https://www.theverge.com/2022/11/11/23453262/waymo-av-driverless-taxi-phoenix-california-dmv-progress">US$4.8 billion in 2020 and US$5.2 billion in 2021</a>.</p> <p>Waymo One provides autonomous ride-hailing services in <a href="https://www.theverge.com/2023/2/28/23617278/waymo-self-driving-driverless-crashes-av">Phoenix as well as San Francisco</a>. It plans to expand into <a href="https://www.theverge.com/2022/10/19/23410677/waymo-los-angeles-autonomous-robotaxi-service-launch">Los Angeles</a> this year.</p> <p>Uber was a major force in autonomous vehicle development as part of its business plan was to replace human drivers. However, it ran into problems, including a crash in March 2018 when a self-driving Uber killed a woman walking her bicycle across a street in Tempe, Arizona. In 2020, Arizona Uber sold its AV research division to Aurora Innovation.</p> <p>But in October 2022 Uber got back into autonomous vehicles by <a href="https://www.forbes.com/sites/samabuelsamid/2022/10/06/motional-and-uber-announce-10-year-deal-to-deploy-automated-vehicles-in-multiple-us-markets/?sh=44d83a84273e">signing a deal</a> with Motional, a joint venture between Hyundai and Aptiv. Motional will provide autonomous vehicles for Uber’s ride-hailing and delivery services.</p> <p>Lyft, the second-largest ride-sharing company after Uber, operates in the US and Canada. Like Uber, Lyft had a self-driving unit and in 2016, Lyft co-founder John Zimmer <a href="https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2016/09/lyfts-president-says-car-ownership-will-all-but-end-by-2025">predicted</a> that by 2021 the majority of rides on its network would be in such vehicles (and private car ownership would “all but end” by 2025). It didn’t happen. By 2021, Lyft had also <a href="https://techcrunch.com/2021/04/26/lyft-sells-self-driving-unit-to-toyotas-woven-planet-for-550m/">sold its self-driving vehicle unit</a>, to Toyota.</p> <p>In 2022, Zimmer <a href="https://techcrunch.com/2022/10/20/lyft-co-founder-says-autonomous-vehicles-wont-replace-drivers-for-at-least-a-decade/">said</a> the technology would not replace drivers for at least a decade. However, Lyft did partner with Motional in August 2022 to launch <a href="https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/lyft-and-motional-deliver-the-first-rides-in-motionals-new-all-electric-ioniq-5-autonomous-vehicle-301606519.html">robotaxis in Las Vegas</a> and <a href="https://www.reuters.com/business/autos-transportation/lyft-motional-launch-robotaxi-service-los-angeles-2022-11-17/">Los Angeles</a>.</p> <p>Telsa is the <a href="https://www.ev-volumes.com/">world leader in sales</a> of battery electric vehicles. It also purports to sell vehicles with full automation. However, by the end of 2022, no level 3, 4 or 5 vehicles were for sale in the United States.</p> <p>What Telsa offers is a full self-driving system as a US$15,000 option. Buyers acknowledge they are buying a beta version and assume all risks. If the system malfunctions, Telsa does not accept any responsibility.</p> <p>In February 2023, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration <a href="https://amp.theguardian.com/technology/2023/feb/16/tesla-recall-full-self-driving-cars">found</a>, "[Fully self-driving] beta software that allows a vehicle to exceed speed limits or travel through intersections in an unlawful or unpredictable manner increases the risk of a crash."</p> <p>This led to Tesla <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2023/feb/16/tesla-recall-full-self-driving-cars">recalling 362,000 vehicles</a> to update the software.</p> <p>Another setback for autonomous vehicle sales to the public was the October 2022 announcement that Ford and VW had decided to <a href="https://techcrunch.com/2022/10/26/ford-vw-backed-argo-ai-is-shutting-down/">stop funding autonomous driving technology company Argo AI</a>, resulting in its closure. Both Ford and VW decided to shift their focus from level 4 automation to levels 2 and 3.</p> <h2>So, what can we expect next?</h2> <p>Autonomous vehicle development will continue, but with less hype. It’s being recognised as more an evolutionary process than a revolutionary one. The increasing cost of capital will also make it harder for autonomous vehicle startups to get development funds.</p> <p>The areas that appear to be making the best progress are autonomous ride-hailing and heavy vehicles. Self-driving car sales to the public are <a href="https://www.drive.com.au/news/level-4-self-driving-technology-mercedes-benz/">further down the track</a>.</p> <p><em>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://theconversation.com/we-were-told-wed-be-riding-in-self-driving-cars-by-now-what-happened-to-the-promised-revolution-201088" target="_blank" rel="noopener">The Conversation</a>.</em></p> <p><em>Images: Getty</em></p>

Technology

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Woman who killed grandfather apologises

<p>Alisha Fagan claims she has changed her ways since killing a beloved grandfather in a crash while drunk and initially blaming four African men.</p> <p>The 21-year-old woman from Melbourne read out a letter of apology to Sedat Hassan’s family as she faced the Country Koori Court for a pre-sentence hearing on Monday.</p> <p>Fagan was on a suspended learners permit, drunk and driving more than 25km/h over the speed limit when she hit the 69-year-old man’s car, resulting in his death on June 9 2022.</p> <p>Hours before the incident, the court heard Fagan had been drinking wine from the bottle with a friend near the Maribyrnong River.</p> <p>The two friends then travelled to Sunshine West and picked up two men. Fagan’s passengers fled when she failed to give way and crashed into Mr Hassan’s car.</p> <p>She waited for emergency services to arrive, gave the police officers a fake name and said she was not driving at the time, instead pinning the blame on four African men.</p> <p>“She went on to tell the police four African males were in the car at the time and had fled the scene after the collision," prosecutor Kristie Churchill told the court.</p> <p>"She stated that she had only just met these males.”</p> <p>Fagan has pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing death and drug possession; she was on four sets of bail at the time of the incident and was facing about a dozen driving offences.</p> <p>She was released on bail to undergo rehabilitation.</p> <p>Fagan shed tears as Mr Hassan’s family remembered him as a beloved father and grandfather who spent a great deal of his time caring for his disabled son, in statements read to the court.</p> <p>"My husband was my world, I can't bring him back," his wife said.</p> <p>"My son, who has autism, gets up in the middle of the night and opens all the windows looking for his father.”</p> <p>One of Mr Hassan’s sons shared his father had waited for years to become a grandfather.</p> <p>"As soon as he became one, he only got to hold his grandson three times and be with him until he was four months old," he said.</p> <p>Fagan read a letter of apology to Mr Hassan’s family, saying she took full responsibility for his death.</p> <p>"I only have myself to blame. At the time of this tragedy I was a severe alcoholic, had no impulse control, had no understanding of consequences," she told the court.</p> <p>"I've spent the last nine months improving myself every single day so that this will never, ever happen again.</p> <p>"Please know that who I was then and who I am now are not the same person."</p> <p>The hearing has been adjourned to May 9.</p> <p><em>Image credit: TikTok</em></p>

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