How far will governments go to pamper the car-tethered

We now officially measure driver frustration. Tragically true!

The National Transport Performance Centre (NTPC) has developed a new national performance indicator for driver frustration.

That's right, the boffins at the NTPC—part of the Australian Road Research Board—have declared that from now, Australian driver frustration can be measured.

"The Driver Frustration Index measures the levels of driver frustration generated by our most congested roads and includes the factors that negatively impact the driving experience,” they trumpet from twin exhausts.

"The latest research shows that the surrounding road space and condition of the roads are important factors with narrow and rough roads faring the worst.

"The NTPC has developed the Driver Frustration Index by combining these factors that ranks our worst performing roads.

"Commuters arriving home after a nightmare run on the roads are suffering from frustration.

"True, congestion has caused their frustration and congestion has had an economic impact, but it is the frustration levels that are carried through the front door,” ARRB Chief Research Officer Mike Shackleton said.

Something appears to be missing in translation.

It's actually drivers that cause congestion!

If you really want to reduce their frustration, reduce the number of drivers.

The finding that narrow and rough roads are an important factor in frustration seems to be a coded message that the remedy is to make roads wide and smoother.

Which, as we know, would bring more drivers on the road, and increased congestion, and in turn—well, you know—more frustration.

Dr Shackleton says speed (or lack of) has been discarded as too simplistic as a lone measure, because 30km per hour on a small suburban street cannot be compared to 30km per hour on a motorway.

Instead the NTPC has used its data and expertise to develop a multi-factor measure index of frustration levels.

“Our Frustration Index takes into account actual speed, posted speed limits, road space available and the overall physical condition of the road surface itself. Other factors may play a part, and future feedback from road users will identify those for inclusion in improving the Index,” Dr Shackleton said.

Initial work with the model is promising. The challenge now is to continue to develop the model based on actual frustration levels experienced by Australia road users – the ultimate truth – to better measure and predict frustration levels on the whole major road network.

“When we can do that with confidence, we can target investment in our roads with laser-like precision to reduce frustration amongst commuters, while also improving the economic return our road network provides,” Dr Shackleton said.

Bike riders just can’t wait.

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