Sunday, 17 December 2017

NZ has a Driving Problem: Respect

It's been a bad year on NZ roads: the highest road toll in 7 years and a horrible spike in cyclist deaths. I trust that the policy agencies are all over this but my concern is that we are massively under-emphasising one of the three official messages. 

The advice seems to be: belt-up, drive safely & respect other road users. I think we need much more effort on the third leg of this stool: respect.

Exhibit 1: Mark Richardson. What a wanker. Mark delights in cruising at 95km/hr in the fast lane of a two-lane highway. 

As a fledgling shock-jock, Mark only says out loud what (he reckons) lots of people are thinking. I reckon his reckon is right: there is a regular supply of anti-social arseholes out there on our roads. They've bought into the slow=good message to the point where they actively enjoy slowing other people down.

We use SH6 often between Blenheim and Nelson. There are a few safe passing places but only a few. Lots of other roads have similar features. 

I prefer to drive at 100km/hr unless conditions dictate otherwise. Often we run up behind trucks, road maggots & other rentals obviously happy to beetle along at 80 - 90km/hr. If it's a large infestation we just beetle along too. But other times there is a real chance of getting past slower traffic safely. 

In this situation, you might think that everyone benefits from successful overtaking, because the slow drivers know they're slow. Feeling bad about holding-up other people, they like seeing you overtake them. 

Sadly, other drivers accelerate, trying to race you out of a safe overtaking move. As Mark Richardson knows, lots of people have this attitude. They're not in any hurry so why should anyone else be? They'd prefer to hold people up than let them through. I really don't understand this mentality. 

The police say "it is easy for drivers to get distracted, or lose patience with other road users", such as that selfish arsehole who doesn't want you to pass. Reportedly, the police also "despair at the failure of drivers to heed repeated messages and their willingness to take needless risks"

Deliberate moves to prevent overtaking are needless risks, part of the respect problem we have on NZ roads, and a contributor to our road toll. 

So while you're on the road this summer: be respectful; don't be like Mark Richardson.


  1. I'm not sure those slow drivers are deliberately speeding up to thwart any overtaking manoeuvre - I think it's more likely they're speeding up in response to the road being wider and straighter.

    (You're spot on about Richardson though)

  2. Yeah I've definitely noticed this effect & believe it can arise without malice. But there is also malice.

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