11/04/2006 - 22:00

Staying safe on our busy roads this Easter weekend

11/04/2006 - 22:00

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Caravans. As many of you prepare for the next few days or weeks of holidays, that is one foreboding word that may loom darkly across your plans for a smooth ride.

Caravans.

As many of you prepare for the next few days or weeks of holidays, that is one foreboding word that may loom darkly across your plans for a smooth ride.

This week’s special report features caravans as a major component of a successful homegrown industry that is enjoying an unparalleled period of demand, thanks to a two-pronged growth market.

The mobile accommodation market in Western Australia is bounding along due to the unique confluence of two largely unrelated events.

The resources boom, which is driving demand for transportable accommodation – aka dongas – and the rising number of caravans being pulled around our wide brown land by well-off retirees – aka grey nomads.

I say largely unrelated because, while I can’t see much of a link here in WA, I am sure that an economist would tell us that the growing spending power of retirees in the Western world is having some effect on the rise in Chinese demand for our minerals.

Anyway, I have to say the result is what I see as a natural WA Business News feature. Here we have some major global events, coupled with some other national drivers, and the result is a series of small bits of news which, when linked together, make a powerful story.

Right now there is a bunch of people doing very well out of this market; all for vastly different reasons.

It’s exciting stuff, I reckon.

It just shows that we have the ability to manufacture, and it’s not just about providing for the resources industry. The caravan market is competitive and, mainly, on the east coast, yet WA producers have taken a strong market share.

To me, that proves it’s about knowing your customer, not just about being next to them.

What isn’t a natural WA Business News story is the result of that construction, especially on the roads when these caravans get moving in the hands of someone less skilled than the people who originally made them.

While not wanting to tar all caravan towers with the same brush, I do have issues with how considerate (or otherwise) many of their owners are on the roads, just because they’ve decided they have to take a house with them for their weekend’s holiday.

They often drive slowly and create frustration among other drivers.

They do things – like pulling out into oncoming traffic – which licensed truck drivers hauling equally slow loads would rarely do.

They frequently pull caravans with vehicles that were never made to the job.

Few drivers on a holiday route would have failed to encounter the ‘road tortoises’, who seems to do everything in their power to make overtaking impossible.

If you think I sound a little like someone who almost ploughed into the back of a caravan that pulled out in front of me on a major highway last weekend, you’d have guessed very close to the mark.

I am the last person to demand more regulation, caravan haulage licences or special times for these vehicles to be allowed on the road (between 10pm and 6am), because that would not be in the best interests of our industry and, anyway, we don’t need more rules.

What we do need is considerate people who realise they, through their own choice of holiday accommo-dation, tend to hold up other people and should drive accordingly.

That said, it’s important all drivers take particular care on the roads.

So drive safely this Easter (and every day) and have a great time during this special time of the year.

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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