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Video Clip Synopsis:
No matter how well our roads are monitored, the human factor is always unpredictable. What happens when a semi-trailer runs out of fuel on the freeway?

1min 34sec

How To Cause A Traffic Jam is an excerpt from the film Wrong Way Go Back (26mins), an episode of the series Auto Stories (4 x 26 mins), produced in 1999.

Wrong Way Go Back: With one car on our roads for nearly every man, woman and child in this country, solving traffic problems is a never-ending nightmare. Yet it’s just another day at work for the road crews and traffic controllers who monitor Melbourne’s roads via a vast system of cameras. Together they deal with one emergency after another in a vain attempt to keep the freeways flowing. Meanwhile, at Knox City Council a debate rages. Will the council recommend to State Government that further extensions to the current freeway system should cut through the suburb? But at what cost to the environment? Engineers and environmentalists compete to shape the transport options. But who will council support? The outcome surprises everyone.

Auto Stories: A character-driven series that explores themes of vanity, responsibility, dependence, pride, obsession, love and death through our relationship to the car. In Australia there is a car for nearly every man, woman and child, causing traffic congestion, accidents and environmental nightmares. No one is immune from the pleasures and dangers of the car. Everyone has an auto story to tell.

Auto Stories is a Film Australia National Interest Program in association with December Films Pty Ltd. Produced with the assistance of Cinemedia's Film Victoria and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Study Module

Curriculum Focus: SOSE/HSIE
Year: 11-12
Theme: Environment & Work

Key Concepts

Cars; Public transport; Cities; Individual versus public rights; Public transport; Privacy versus efficient control

Curriculum Applicability Notes

ACT:Senior Geography
NSW:Geography Stage 6 — Urban places
NT:Geography stage 1 —People, resources and development; Issues for geographers
Qld:Senior Geography —Resources and environment
SA:Geography stage 1 —People, resources and development; Issues for geographers
Tas:11/12 Geography
Vic:Geography Unit 3 — Resources
WA:Year 12 Geography — Landscape and land uses in Australia

Context / Background Information

The Monash Freeway brings a huge volume of traffic into Melbourne from the south-eastern suburbs each weekday morning. Freeways like the Monash Freeway are major capital works that are costly but dramatically improve traffic flow. Traffic controllers monitor the freeways for accidents and problems that occur on a regular basis. They watch the roads with the assistance of cameras. Traffic controllers also fly in helicopters to monitor traffic congestion. They observe the traffic conditions and their reports are heard on radio stations warning motorists to expect delays or to take alternative routes. Emergency service drivers are on call for breakdowns and accidents. Emergency phones to call for help are at regular points along the freeways.

Discussion Pointers

  1. The title does not fit the subject of the video clip— or does it? What does the title mean?
  2. What image of life is given in this video clip? How is that image created by the filmmaker?
  3. Look at the way in which the video clip has been constructed. Comment on the main elements used by the filmmaker to tell the story and get a message or point across.
  4. The video clip shows a number of ways in which roads are being monitored. Is this a worry, an infringement on people’s privacy? Or is it a fair and reasonable measure needed to control a public situation?

Suggested Classroom Activities

  1. Organise a traffic survey. Count the volume of traffic going past a certain point at different times of the day. How many vehicles have one occupant? Develop hypotheses about private transport from this survey.
  2. Now survey people who use that road. Develop questions to test the hypotheses you have developed above — for example, you might have decided that the greatest use is in morning peak period by single occupants who could take public transport as an alternative. Decide from the questionnaires if your hypotheses are accurate.

Modules That Use This Clip

English Year 9-10, SOSE/HSIE Year 11-12, English Year 11-12