Opinion: Reduce traffic with a four-day week?

Opinion: Reduce traffic with a four-day week?

I am often accused of not having anything constructive to say. Apparently I’m keen to point out the problems of a particular situation, while not actually offering up any solutions to those problems. But to hell with that; what would my mother know?

Anyways, I’m turning over a new leaf, because I’ve got a plan. And you, my overworked, stressed-out friends, are going to love it. Not only that, it’s a plan to cut the road toll. But that’s not the only reason you’ll love it.

I’ll admit that, in the past, not everybody has agreed with my proposed road safety initiatives. Beige-Camry drivers, from what I can gather, did not agree with me that the roads would be safer for everybody if they all stayed home. BMW 3 Series’ owners were also less than thrilled with my concept of them staying the hell out of the fast lane as another road-safety measure. And the cops did not express too much in the way of agreement when I suggested upping the freeway speed limit to 140km/h as a means of cutting the carnage.

Thing is, all those suggestions would, indeed, lead to a lower road toll, but for selfish reasons, those who have the power to implement them seem to be reluctant to do so. But this time, I’m dead-set onto a winner. Trust me on this one.

So what’s the big idea? It’s simple, really. Aussies are already among the hardest grafters in the world. Well, based on hours worked that is, because I’m not going to compare driving around in other people’s cars and filling a blank space in a magazine with going down a coal mine in Albania or lugging huge bags of sticks around on your back in Cambodia. But the fact remains, the average Australian worker would be better off working fewer hours.

So, we simply make the working week a four-day one. Half the country’s toilers get Mondays off, the other half rests on Fridays. By splitting the workforce on those days businesses can still operate, but everybody gets a three-day weekend. Now, that’s crucial, because it also means that every weekend is now a staggered long weekend. For everyone.

The next step is to get rid of all gazetted public holidays. We won’t need them because, remember, every weekend is a long weekend. So how does this affect the road toll?

Haven’t you worked it out yet? The worst, most dangerous times to be on the road are those gazetted public-holiday long weekends, where every overworked Gazza Lunchpail packs the entire family into the Commodore, hitches up the ski-boat and heads for Bonnie Doon. You only have to look at a freeway heading out of the city on the afternoon before a long weekend to know what I’m talking about.

But if every weekend was a long weekend, everybody would have a chance to get away on whatever weekend they wanted, without creating the same mass exodus, the same traffic chaos and – crucially – without killing each other on the roads. Meanwhile, your favourite caravan park wouldn’t be chockers for six weekends a year and empty for the rest, and Big Oil wouldn’t know when to spike petrol prices.

I know this is a grown-up concept, and to those who know me, don’t worry, as I haven’t abandoned my childish passion for mayhem and absurdity. It’s just that this occurred to me the other day when I was trying to merge on a freeway on a Friday arvo before a long weekend and three lanes of beige Camrys took me to the brink.

Meantime, employers will tell you that Mondays and Fridays are the least productive days of the week to start with, so why not stay home, boost workplace efficiency, improve workers’ mental health and tackle the road toll? Discuss.

Get your free weekly report from the world of fast cars - subscribe to the MOTOR newsletter!