Elderly drivers: Grieving family calls for greater political courage to deal with 'growing deadly problem'

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Ross
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Elderly drivers: Grieving family calls for greater political courage to deal with 'growing deadly problem'

Postby Ross » Wed Dec 20, 2017 8:42 pm

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-12-20/g ... ad/9269858

The family of a young man killed by an elderly driver is calling for political courage to restrict older drivers before more lives are lost.

Sue Jenkins' 22-year-old son, Dann, was killed while riding a motorbike in northern NSW in October last year.

"[Older drivers] are a growing deadly problem on our roads and there is no will by governments to take any action to make it safer for the general public," Ms Jenkins told 7.30.

"We are second-class citizens because the independence of the elderly driver is more important than our right to expect other drivers on the roads to be competent."

Edwin Jessop, 87, was driving in the opposite direction and failed to see Dann coming and turned directly into his path.

A crash investigation found Mr Jessop had almost six seconds to see Dann.

Last week in the Lismore Magistrates Court, Mr Jessop was sentenced to nine months in jail and had his licence cancelled for three years after pleading guilty to negligent driving occasioning death.

But Mr Jessop's sentence was suspended due to his age and he will not serve any time behind bars.

"I just feel my soul has just been ripped away, I don't even know what to look forward to anymore. I have nothing," Dann's father, Gary Jenkins, said.

"We have nothing left, the tank is empty," Ms Jenkins added.

Mr Jessop has been devastated by the accident.

In a letter to the court, he said he was, "haunted by this tragedy".

"Every day, I think about the accident and wonder if I had been just a minute later or a minute earlier, would Mr Jenkins still be alive?" Mr Jessop wrote.

"If we had crossed paths on a different stretch of road or I taken a different route home, would Mr Jenkins still be alive?

"Thoughts like these enter my mind day and night and I know they will always stay with me."

Not long before the accident, Mr Jessop had been deemed fit to drive.

After the accident, his eyesight was re-tested and it was found he needed glasses.

The increasing risk elderly drivers pose on our roads presents a dilemma for policy makers and is an area that is bitterly contested.

There are currently more than 1 million drivers in Australia over the age of 75 and that number is set to skyrocket in the coming years.

New South Wales has the toughest restrictions on elderly drivers, requiring mandatory medical checks from age 75 and driver testing from 85.

But in recent years, Tasmania, South Australia and Western Australia have all scrapped or reduced testing requirements for older drivers, arguing there wasn't strong evidence to show it prevented fatal crashes.

The latest national statistics show older drivers are involved in one fifth of all deadly crashes, and that proportion is increasing.

Last year, there were 215 fatal accidents where one driver was over the age of 65, 30 crashes more than in 2008, according to the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics.

Sue and Gary Jenkins know nothing can bring back their son but they are campaigning for change to keep others safe.

They have started a petition calling for a crackdown on elderly drivers to include assessing how long it takes them to react to an emergency.

They also want increased and better medical checks.

"I want an eyesight test done by an optometrist, not just an eye chart that they read in the doctor's surgery. And I want the peripheral vision to be tested and I want them to be tested to show they don't have dementia," Sue Jenkins said.

NSW Roads Minister Melinda Pavey told 7.30 the increase in elderly drivers presented an unprecedented challenge, and their contribution to road deaths would continue to rise.

"We're all getting older, we have that demographic far outstripping the younger generation so it's a challenge and we're going to face it more into the future," she said.

"[The fatal crash rate] is going to increase because, simply, that end of the population is increasing."

But she said placing more restrictions on older drivers was premature because teenagers continued to be the biggest road safety problem.

"If we were to take the most dangerous cohort off the road we wouldn't have any younger drivers."

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Re: Elderly drivers: Grieving family calls for greater political courage to deal with 'growing deadly problem'

Postby CKinnard » Wed Dec 20, 2017 9:13 pm

Older drivers spend a hell of a lot less time in their cars, and drive correspondingly less km's.
Further, they are not generally on the road at night, or early in the morning.

some more insight into road safety:

http://www.news.com.au/technology/innov ... ad7cab879e

http://www.keepyoureyesontheroad.org.au ... stics-Cont

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Re: Elderly drivers: Grieving family calls for greater political courage to deal with 'growing deadly problem'

Postby antigee » Wed Dec 20, 2017 10:12 pm

NSW Roads Minister Melinda Pavey told 7.30 the increase in elderly drivers presented an unprecedented challenge, and their contribution to road deaths would continue to rise.

"We're all getting older, we have that demographic far outstripping the younger generation so it's a challenge and we're going to face it more into the future," she said.

"[The fatal crash rate] is going to increase because, simply, that end of the population is increasing."

But she said placing more restrictions on older drivers was premature because teenagers continued to be the biggest road safety problem.

"If we were to take the most dangerous cohort off the road we wouldn't have any younger drivers."


it is an unprecedented challenge in the sense that there isn't an easy political get out...other than doing what the Minister has done here and argue that you can't do something about one problem because there is another one that is worse - the unprecedented challenge is acting on the obvious and avoiding the political positioning of trying to divert to another issue albeit a serious issue

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Re: Elderly drivers: Grieving family calls for greater political courage to deal with 'growing deadly problem'

Postby bychosis » Wed Dec 20, 2017 10:20 pm

It does need some consideration. While it appears that older drivers are more cautious and don’t drive as much the certainly appear to be over represented in the ‘oops wrong pedal’ careering into a shop crash.
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Re: Elderly drivers: Grieving family calls for greater political courage to deal with 'growing deadly problem'

Postby uart » Thu Dec 21, 2017 12:14 am

That story makes a lot of sense, because I know that personally I have only ever been cut off by cars turning across my path where the driver was elderly. Looking further into this I have found that in the entire history of cycling, no motorist has ever turned across the path of a cyclist, or failed to give way to a cyclist, other than where the motorist was elderly. :?

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Re: Elderly drivers: Grieving family calls for greater political courage to deal with 'growing deadly problem'

Postby lone rider » Thu Dec 21, 2017 12:47 am

Having experienced similar and luckily only getting away with minor injuries I am 100% behind changes with this. In perfect conditions on a straight stretch of road wearing an orange striped jersey at travelling at less than 40km/h an elderly driver put me on his bonnet and into his windscreen by failing to give way. After the police attended his excuse he didn't see me and was then booked and told he would be referred for a licence review. His response was to get his lawyer involved and sent me a paltry card saying sorry. Meanwhile I'm $5k out of pocket on bike damage and medical bills and my hip still hasn't recovered to 100% and probably won't. The Scott People's case is worth reading for anybody else who has doubts about not needing compulsory testing at regular intervals for people over a certain age. To get a driving licence at 18 and not be reviewed again for the rest of your life unless you have an accident is madness, can't think of any other machinery in a workplace or similar where this same situation would happen, if co-workers saw somebody's reflexes decline and become a danger to those around them, they wouldn't be left to continue on doing what they do. Driving slower or only during daylight does not make them safe to be on the roads if eyesight and reflexes have deteriorated to such a point.

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Re: Elderly drivers: Grieving family calls for greater political courage to deal with 'growing deadly problem'

Postby Ross » Thu Dec 21, 2017 4:24 am

lone rider wrote:To get a driving licence at 18 and not be reviewed again for the rest of your life unless you have an accident is madness, can't think of any other machinery in a workplace or similar where this same situation would happen...


Forklift

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Re: Elderly drivers: Grieving family calls for greater political courage to deal with 'growing deadly problem'

Postby bychosis » Thu Dec 21, 2017 7:04 am

Ross wrote:
lone rider wrote:To get a driving licence at 18 and not be reviewed again for the rest of your life unless you have an accident is madness, can't think of any other machinery in a workplace or similar where this same situation would happen...


Forklift

Yeah. Most machinery has a ‘lifetime’ ticket and probably only gets reviewed when complaints occur, or the operator is involved in a series of incidents. However it also depends on the WHS culture in the workplace whether the operator is referred for checks by workmates.
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Re: Elderly drivers: Grieving family calls for greater political courage to deal with 'growing deadly problem'

Postby queequeg » Thu Dec 21, 2017 7:46 am

I'd agree....

This was one of my encounters with an elderly driver. Police spoke to him, and he couldn't recall seeing me...on a perfectly straight road, in clear daylight, with no other traffic on the road

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Re: Elderly drivers: Grieving family calls for greater political courage to deal with 'growing deadly problem'

Postby g-boaf » Thu Dec 21, 2017 8:00 am

NSW Roads Minister Melinda Pavey told 7.30 the increase in elderly drivers presented an unprecedented challenge, and their contribution to road deaths would continue to rise.

"We're all getting older, we have that demographic far outstripping the younger generation so it's a challenge and we're going to face it more into the future," she said.

"[The fatal crash rate] is going to increase because, simply, that end of the population is increasing."

But she said placing more restrictions on older drivers was premature because teenagers continued to be the biggest road safety problem.

"If we were to take the most dangerous cohort off the road we wouldn't have any younger drivers."



The unprecedented challenge is because older drivers are generally Liberal/National voters and the government dares not upset this powerful group of voters for fear of being booted out at the next election. Teenagers tend to be left-wing and liberal in their values (liberal as in not conservative, not Liberal as in the party) so of course they are a bigger safety problem that must be dealt with. If they were also conservative voters, you can bet the government would go easier on them.

uart wrote:That story makes a lot of sense, because I know that personally I have only ever been cut off by cars turning across my path where the driver was elderly. Looking further into this I have found that in the entire history of cycling, no motorist has ever turned across the path of a cyclist, or failed to give way to a cyclist, other than where the motorist was elderly. :?



I have experience with elderly drivers (including some who were relatives) and yes, they did do dangerous things. Regular testing of elderly drivers would be a good thing. Though perhaps it is needed that everyone is retested more frequently?

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Re: Elderly drivers: Grieving family calls for greater political courage to deal with 'growing deadly problem'

Postby bychosis » Thu Dec 21, 2017 8:34 am

Yes, everyone should be tested more regularly. Perhaps they need the hazard perception test and a few rule related questions each time you renew your licence. It seems that that would focus on newer and older drivers because, in NSW at least, once you have a few years under your belt you can get a 10 year licence up until age 45.
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Re: Elderly drivers: Grieving family calls for greater political courage to deal with 'growing deadly problem'

Postby CKinnard » Thu Dec 21, 2017 9:13 am

Most people don't know the road rules relative to cyclists, which fuels so much motorist hatred of cyclists.
So driver tests are obviously inadequate.

I don't deny there's a lot of older people who are compromised in ability to drive safely.
But I'd also argue that more trauma is caused by people compromised in ability to drive safely due to chronic fatigue, medication (alcohol is taken care of), inattentive behind the wheel, easily distracted, possessing poor impulse control.

Should these people be retested as well?

80% of MVAs are tail enders, but I've never seen a tail gater booked by the police. I saw a truck sitting about 3-4 meters off the back of several cars on the local motorway the other day, doing 100kph. I thought to video it with my phone, but then that would be illegal!

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Re: Elderly drivers: Grieving family calls for greater political courage to deal with 'growing deadly problem'

Postby bychosis » Thu Dec 21, 2017 9:42 am

The future for the elderly drivers will be self driving cars. It's not that far off either.
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Re: Elderly drivers: Grieving family calls for greater political courage to deal with 'growing deadly problem'

Postby CKinnard » Thu Dec 21, 2017 10:06 am

bychosis wrote:The future for the elderly drivers will be self driving cars. It's not that far off either.


good point. have never thought of that before. they have most of the wealth, so makes sense to tap that market.
though some don't think there's anything wrong with their driving.
20 years ago, I was working on the wards of a rural hospital. It was Easter. An older man was brought in, with his sister-in-law, both very banged up from a MVA.
The story goes - he had 5 people in the car and they were on a long drive....he overtook another car across double line and had a head on collision with a car of 4 people. Seven people died at the scene. His sister-in-law died in ICU. He survived.
I got to talk with his distraught relatives, distraught for the damage he did mind you. And they said everyone knew he would eventually have a serious accident due to bad temper and compromised judgement. Many talked to him for years about stopping driving, but were shouted down.

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Re: Elderly drivers: Grieving family calls for greater political courage to deal with 'growing deadly problem'

Postby AdelaidePeter » Thu Dec 21, 2017 10:17 am

Except for the very old, the statistics are that older drivers are safer than younger ones (like under 25, especially males), by quite a margin. Testing for over 80 or over 85? Maybe. Testing for over 65, like that article suggests? Unwarranted.

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Re: Elderly drivers: Grieving family calls for greater political courage to deal with 'growing deadly problem'

Postby silentC » Thu Dec 21, 2017 10:35 am

I think the whole business of allowing people behind the wheel is way too lenient. I can't believe how easy it is to obtain and maintain a drivers licence, or how powerless the law seems to be to stop people driving while suspended or unlicensed.

Anything that erodes the notion that it's something you are automatically entitled to gets my vote. The less people driving the better.
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Re: Elderly drivers: Grieving family calls for greater political courage to deal with 'growing deadly problem'

Postby fat and old » Thu Dec 21, 2017 11:15 am

I'm in favour of yearly retesting of road rules, medicals and eyesight checks for all motorists. It's a freakin privilege, not a right, to operate a motor vehicle and should be approached as such.

On workplaces.....VOC's are becoming more and more prevalent and address this issue. It's not as simple as Ross or Bychosis puts it. Not everywhere, but it will filter through.

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Re: Elderly drivers: Grieving family calls for greater political courage to deal with 'growing deadly problem'

Postby silentC » Thu Dec 21, 2017 12:05 pm

I went for my licence renewal a couple of months ago. I took my glasses just in case but I passed the eye test easily unassisted. I can barely read street signs without my glasses but I'm allowed to drive without them.
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Re: Elderly drivers: Grieving family calls for greater political courage to deal with 'growing deadly problem'

Postby Scott_C » Thu Dec 21, 2017 12:32 pm

fat and old wrote:On workplaces.....VOC's are becoming more and more prevalent and address this issue. It's not as simple as Ross or Bychosis puts it. Not everywhere, but it will filter through.


Was just about to make this point, between dodgy accreditations and people who got into construction during the boom and have been out of work for 5+ years returning as work picks back up I am seeing most of the big contractors in my industry require verification of competency (essentially a driver/operator's practical test) as well as the accreditation.

The lead contractor on my last project even required a VOC before driving a company car, acknowledging that the Government's car licensing system was inadequate to meet the contractor's safety targets.

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Re: Elderly drivers: Grieving family calls for greater political courage to deal with 'growing deadly problem'

Postby bychosis » Thu Dec 21, 2017 12:50 pm

Scott_C wrote:
fat and old wrote:On workplaces.....VOC's are becoming more and more prevalent and address this issue. It's not as simple as Ross or Bychosis puts it. Not everywhere, but it will filter through.


Was just about to make this point, between dodgy accreditations and people who got into construction during the boom and have been out of work for 5+ years returning as work picks back up I am seeing most of the big contractors in my industry require verification of competency (essentially a driver/operator's practical test) as well as the accreditation.

The lead contractor on my last project even required a VOC before driving a company car, acknowledging that the Government's car licensing system was inadequate to meet the contractor's safety targets.



Is a VOC a competency test or a piece of paper that says it's all good? Kinda like the dodgy tickets that got handed out in pubs years ago, it won't be particularly hard to shortcut a VOC process. big companies seem to be OK at this stuff, but the dodgy operators just end up working at the little companies where safety is 'not as important'
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Re: Elderly drivers: Grieving family calls for greater political courage to deal with 'growing deadly problem'

Postby lone rider » Thu Dec 21, 2017 12:54 pm

Ross wrote:
lone rider wrote:To get a driving licence at 18 and not be reviewed again for the rest of your life unless you have an accident is madness, can't think of any other machinery in a workplace or similar where this same situation would happen...


Forklift


How many 80 year olds are driving forklifts?

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Re: Elderly drivers: Grieving family calls for greater political courage to deal with 'growing deadly problem'

Postby djw47 » Thu Dec 21, 2017 1:40 pm

bychosis wrote:
Ross wrote:
lone rider wrote:To get a driving licence at 18 and not be reviewed again for the rest of your life unless you have an accident is madness, can't think of any other machinery in a workplace or similar where this same situation would happen...


Forklift

Yeah. Most machinery has a ‘lifetime’ ticket and probably only gets reviewed when complaints occur, or the operator is involved in a series of incidents. However it also depends on the WHS culture in the workplace whether the operator is referred for checks by workmates.


But presumably most of that machinery is not used once the person retires at 65ish. I can't imagine there are too many working 87yo forklift drivers around.
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Re: Elderly drivers: Grieving family calls for greater political courage to deal with 'growing deadly problem'

Postby Scott_C » Thu Dec 21, 2017 2:19 pm

bychosis wrote:Is a VOC a competency test or a piece of paper that says it's all good? Kinda like the dodgy tickets that got handed out in pubs years ago, it won't be particularly hard to shortcut a VOC process. big companies seem to be OK at this stuff, but the dodgy operators just end up working at the little companies where safety is 'not as important'


VOC requirements are not yet standardised so they vary between the different Principal Contractors, some of them will accept a VOC certificate from any Nationally Accredited third party, others will nominate select 3rd parties that they have audited and others require the VOC to be done internally on the particular site using the exact model of equipment that they will be using during the works (with repeated assessments if different models are in use). Generally the bigger the job the more thorough the process.

In all cases I have seen the Principal Contractors apply the same requirements to their subbies so "Dodgy Bros Wet Plant Hire" are unable to bring unqualified or incompetent operators onto the site.

My experience is in $100M+ Government jobs so I expect things at the other end of the market are no where near advanced.

Edit: With respect to the topic in general my sister (on foot) got pinballed across a carpark by an elderly driver who mistook the accelerator for the brake. She hit my sister with such force that my sister dented the back of the vehicle at the opposite side of the carpark row and left her with permanent shoulder and back problems in her mid 20's. Fortunately my brother in law was home at the time with their kids otherwise they would have been with my sister and would have almost certainly been killed. Because carparks aren't automatically roads under the definitions in the WA Road Traffic Code no police action was taken and the driver kept her license. You can guess from this anecdote what my opinion on re-testing of older drivers is.
Last edited by Scott_C on Thu Dec 21, 2017 2:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Elderly drivers: Grieving family calls for greater political courage to deal with 'growing deadly problem'

Postby Thoglette » Thu Dec 21, 2017 2:25 pm

bychosis wrote:Is a VOC a competency test or a piece of paper that says it's all good?

Where I work the VOC is physical demonstration of your ability to control the equipment you're going to be using. Usually to the prime contractor's representative.Look for a trend to outsource this "expensive" process to off-site training organisations who are "more efficient". And wait for the scandals; followed by more regulation. Then the cycle will be complete. And can start again.

Back to the OP's post, this comes back to the underlying problem that private-cars==transport in this country. And that driving is essential to being a complete human being.

In WA we've got another round of whining (to support a Beeching style "review", no doubt) that the PTA is a drain on the public purse. Meanwhile Main Roads (alone) spends about $1.5B on "improvements" every year without anyone batting an eyelid.

This weeks train accident in the USA highlights the fact public transport rarely sends people to hospital. Yet we spend a double-digit percentage of our over-stretched health budgets on direct costs from motor vehicle "accidents" without joining the dots.

As someone who's been over the bonnet of an elderly driver's car (fortunately at low speed and without serious injury) I am somewhat conflicted. There are three clear steps needed
1. Provide alternatives.
2. Fund the alternatives.
3. remove the 'losing my independence' stigma of no longer driving. Requires 1, 2 & 6, plus 4 helps.
4. get comprehensive, every-decade post-licence VOC for drivers. This should be practical; simulated and legal.
5. Stop specifying; funding and building high speed (that is, above 30kph) roads in suburban and urban streets.
6. Educate, educate, educate. The schlock jocks and car manufacturers are spending $$$ on re-enforcing the meme that the fast car is essential to a successful life.
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Re: Elderly drivers: Grieving family calls for greater political courage to deal with 'growing deadly problem'

Postby fat and old » Thu Dec 21, 2017 5:09 pm

bychosis wrote:
Scott_C wrote:
fat and old wrote:On workplaces.....VOC's are becoming more and more prevalent and address this issue. It's not as simple as Ross or Bychosis puts it. Not everywhere, but it will filter through.


Was just about to make this point, between dodgy accreditations and people who got into construction during the boom and have been out of work for 5+ years returning as work picks back up I am seeing most of the big contractors in my industry require verification of competency (essentially a driver/operator's practical test) as well as the accreditation.

The lead contractor on my last project even required a VOC before driving a company car, acknowledging that the Government's car licensing system was inadequate to meet the contractor's safety targets.



Is a VOC a competency test or a piece of paper that says it's all good? Kinda like the dodgy tickets that got handed out in pubs years ago, it won't be particularly hard to shortcut a VOC process.


All of the VOC's I've done are competency tests...they make me prove I can operate the machine safely. I do it to my guys with the trucks every 12 months or so. I'm sure there's dodgy's out there, you just have to look around. Plenty of "training" companies still offer package tickets....6 in a week etc.

big companies seem to be OK at this stuff, but the dodgy operators just end up working at the little companies where safety is 'not as important'


Sort of, but not really.

Big companies are relatively good at amassing paperwork and ticking boxes. Unless the workers on any particular site are employed by said big company (I'm talking Civil and Building construction mainly) they will merely compile databases of information provided by the subbies. Given that most large companies are limited to Project Managers, Supervising Engineers, Infrastructure Delivery Engineers, Project Team Leaders etc that is usually the case. Even when these companies have a substantial workforce of their own (usually for "reactive" works...think infrastructure maintenance) they are supplemented by a large cohort of subbies, where we see Programmed Works Delivery Engineers and the like. So they rely on the information supplied by the subbies...which is pretty easy to dodgy up. THEIR employers...Local, State and Federal Government, stat authorities (almost without exception on larger Civil new and maintenance jobs and many buildings) and large investors (Builders) are ultimately where the buck is supposed to stop. However, they in turn rely on their provider/partner in the same way that entity relies on the lowly subbie.....in other words it's easy to dodgy up.

It's all about perceptions. Note that no-one is exempt from this...not the large businesses, the large clients, nor the unions for that matter or the small subbies.

As for safety being "not as important", you can sub in "too expensive" quite easily. The large clients; in fact all clients to some degree; insist on "x" safety to be observed. "Y" regulations to be followed. Then they receive, accept and enforce contracts/tenders which are blatantly too cheap to provide the service requested at the quality and delivery of safety required. This is common and outrageous.

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