When the Domain Tunnel opened in 2000, the state government set a temporary sixty kilometre an hour speed limit. Their caution seems prudent. Who knows how much the construction firm might’ve abridged basic safety to cut costs. But the explanation they proffered insulted all of us. They explained that Victorian motorists needed time to get used to driving through a tunnel. As if they thought that, finding no sky above our heads, we might flip out and slam on the brakes in traffic.
For weeks, they had run an advertising campaign instructing us just to drive like normal in the tunnel. Don’t get out of your car or try to turn around.
In how much contempt must they hold us if they think we need their help to grasp the concept of a tunnel? They must see the Victorian motorist as a creature of mere impulse. Like a monkey. Imagine the ad with the subtext explicit:
“The Victorian does not assess or plan. He reacts. Faced with any new experience, even one as humdrum as driving through a tunnel, he may panic. He may do something ridiculous, like swerving into the wall for no reason.
His ignorance leaves him vulnerable to fits of hysteria. “Who has blotted out the sun!” he may scream. He may halt in the midst of traffic and run out of his car.”