Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Road toll

Eight people killed on the roads over one long weekend is a tragedy.

The tragedy of this weekend’s road toll is that police were led to pursue a flawed traffic policing policy this holiday weekend on the basis of believing their own headlines.

They were put off by the statistical anomaly of Queens Birthday weekend, when a weekend with no deaths on the roads followed the announcement for that weekend of a traffic policing policy of “zero tolerance” for speed. (A policy that also generated a huge uptick in revenue.)

All the authorities trumpeted that the policy caused the triumph with the road toll. They were so certain they re-imposed the policy this weekend, and re-ran all the ads and notices warning motorists to watch out for policemen watching them.

But they forgot that correlation is not causality.

Trying to convince drivers that speed is everything—that driving a few kph over the speed limit is going to kill us all—and convinced themselves by their own publicity, they  succeeded only in fooling themselves, and being surprised this morning at a number they thought they had no right to expect.

Eight people killed is a tragedy.  Perhaps some of those drivers might not have died if police over the weekend had focussed on dangerous driving instead of sitting on their bums to collect revenue from motorists driving a few kph over the speed limit.


  1. Hear hear.

    I find it a lot harder to drive safely with my eyes glued to the speedo than when I can use them to concentrate on what's going on outside the vehicle.

    Was going to go away this weekend, but stayed home to avoid the stress of watching for cops rather than driving properly.

  2. "Was going to go away this weekend, but stayed home to avoid the stress of watching for cops rather than driving properly."

    Seriously? That was the actual reason you didn't go away? Jesus, how sad.

    Judge Holden

  3. Not nearly as sad as someone who constantly hangs around where they are not wanted and snipes at people for no reason. Go and find some friends.

  4. Yeah it is. It's way more sad. You're so frightened of perhaps getting a speeding ticket because you can't drive properly that you've turned yourself into a prisoner. That pretty tragic. Take some lessons.

    Judge Holden

  5. They just can't get to grips with the random world of individual events.

  6. " getting a speeding ticket because you can't drive properly "

    As with every other comment you've ever made at this blog, this just shows how pig ignorant you are Judge.

  7. Are the mobile tax collectors going to try a >14kph leniency policy next holiday weekend?

    If not, why not?

  8. "but stayed home to avoid the stress of watching for cops rather than driving properly."

    Please tell me your not serious? If not that is the most pathetic and strangely hillarious thing I have read on this blog.

    Speedos do not show your true speed, they are always calibrated to show a greater speed sometimes even up to 10kmh greater than actual. But seriously if you can't maintain a constant speed of 100kmh give or take 5kmh I'm actually kinda concerned as to your driving ability.

    And I hardly think they were getting any revenue from giving out 30 dollar tickets (if indeed they gave out many or any) when taking into account admin and manhour costs, the revenue gathering argument simply doesn't work here.

    The obvious logic behind reducing the speed limit on days of heavy traffic is to get vehicles travelling at roughly the same speed and to be content doing so, rather than engaging in risky overtaking moves. If say we had a 120kmh speed, drivers would simply not be content to sit behind a boat and trailer doing 95kmh. Impatience, road rage and dangerous overtaking is the result (which we used to to see allot of a decade or so ago).

    Did we even see any 'normal' fatalities we normally see on these holidays?, ie head on collisions, loss of control etc by your average holiday commuter.

    My understanding is that they were almost all drunks or young drivers in remote areas and took out themselves and passengers.

    P.S we went away and had a lovely weekend up North. Traffic was well behaved, people were content just to cruise between 95-105 kmh in the flow of traffic and only saw one idiot on the road in a 6 hour total commute. Hope you enjoyed staying at home.

  9. A rather more pathetic thing would be the sad fact that the only "test" of one's "driving ability" seems to be whether you can slavishly concentrate on keeping your speed within an unnaturally narrow band, rather than any of the other vastly more important tasks like staying on the road, knowing whats going on around you, being considerate to others, etc.

    In a modern car where other countries let you safely travel at significantly over the NZ speed limit, and where a 4km/hr increase in speed can be achieved in a fraction of a second with the tiniest nudge of the accelerator, the only justification of an absurd lowering of the tolerance is the boorish power lust of the police and their masters.

    Maybe you should be "concerned about the driving ability" of those people who can't manage to drive at open road speeds without crashing or can't be bothered to even pay enough attention to the job at hand to get to that speed in the first place.

  10. I laughed on friday when i heard the police were going down this track again looking at that the forecast. As Studies oversea have shown there are more accidents during good weather as a norm. So Queens BDay was totally crap weather and Labour day was great weather. Well i be damn international studies are correct.

  11. Lets get this bullshit in perspective, shall we?

    There are approx 4.2 million private cars in New Zealand (about the same as the population) and if only 15% of these made a journey of 100kms during the Labour Weekend which they wouldn't have otherwise taken, then this means that an additional 64,500,000kms were travelled. If each car carried an average of 2 people then this makes a total number of ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY NINE MILLION EXTRA PEOPLE/KMS TRAVELLED.

    Only about 9% of our roads are motorways.... so there were approximately 120 MILLION people/kms of cars hurtling towards each other at combined collision speeds of 120 kph and narrowly missing each other as they approached each other on one and two-lane highways.

    And out of all this, EIGHT people were killed!!! Just EIGHT! This is a chance of 0.0000067% of being killed per km travelled,, or, to raise the odds dramatically, a chance of 0.00063% per person/journey!!!

    Fuck me.... this Labour Weekend travelling is a HUGE risk isn't it?? Geez... no wonder everybody is shitting themself about the road toll.

  12. Twr, I toyed with the idea of going to the races at Woodville but couldn't face the lovely long straight roads north of Masterton with my eyes glued to the speedo. It is idiocy to have to travel at 100kmph on lengthy stretches of perfectly good road, in perfectly good driving conditions. But we are deigned too stupid to exercise our own judgement in the matter. This approach is so depressingly analogous of too many other laws in this country, a fact which I do not want to be constantly reminded of.

    I also notice that those calling for the blood alcohol level to drop hold up European countries as a standard, yet no-one is calling for the speed limits to increase to match those of many continental countries.

  13. "where other countries let you safely travel at significantly over the NZ speed limit,"

    With far superior roads, large motorways and a superior skill set and mentality when it comes to driving that we simply don't have here.

    I would have no problem with a 120kmh limit on dual carriageways or motorways.

    However what would happen if you imposed such a limit on say SH1 between Auckland and Whangarei. You would have a large proportion of slower vehicles doing 90-100kmh, combined with a significant proportion of drivers who want to travel at 120-130kmh. Combine that with few passing lanes and limited safe passing opportunities and you have a recipe for disaster.

  14. It doesn't do much for the motorists' skill set when you have hysterical ads pumping out lies at you constantly that claim that 5km/hr over the speed limit equals instant death, and by inference, the speed limit or anything under it is automatically safe.

    I think I could probably manage 80mph on SH1 around Foxton without spontaneously exploding in a cloud of evilness, however I'm forced instead into a catatonic trance and reliance on cruise control to avoid being pounced on by the local "safety" nazi.

    Transit doesn't seem to have any trouble imposing five different limits within a 1km stretch of road when they feel like it, so I'm sure they could manage it north of Auckland.

    Incidentally, this "tolerance" nonsense is positively dangerous when you have to spend anything up to ten times as long exposed to danger to pass someone as you'd have to if there actually was some appreciation of what the police were meant to be there for.

  15. The weather was crap over Queen's Birthday so everybody stayed home. The weather this weekend was good so everyone was on the roads. That explains pretty much all of it.

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  17. Radar detectors are good - if you get the ones that cost about $700. They have a range of up to 1km.

    The Right side of the aisle has always loved its' authority figures - the police, courts, military to name but a few. Pleased to see some folk are looking at these things with a more jaundiced eye.

  18. Hi Peter,

    You might find this article interesting :




  19. I wish people would stop complaining about New Zealand roads.
    Considering the amount of traffic we have on them, New Zealand roads are fantastic compared to Britain.
    I am back in the UK for the time being and have just bought a Jaguar x-type. Thanks to the high price of tax and petrol, gas guzzlers are cheap here, so i picked up a 2004 model for less than the press of s shopping trolley.
    Anyway, here the country roads are very narrow and twisted, and quite busy too.
    There are bloody roundabouts everywhere.
    The main A roads are so busy that speeding is but a pipe dream and turning right is a pain int eh bum too.
    Safe high speed cruising is only possible on the motorways. The M1 east and north of leeds, plus the adjoining A 1 (M)) are beautiful but watch out for the traffic cameras.

    Back to New Zealand. i do feel we are capable on higher speeds than 100kmh on many stretches of our highways.
    Yes, SH1 near Foxton is a beautiful straight road, as it is further north, past Bulls.
    But SH1 between Waiwera and Northland is not recommended for high speed cruising and on the good bit just north of the Brynderwyns, do watch out.
    I am told that is the most profitable stretch of roads for the local constabulary.


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