Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: No end of mileage

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  • BenWilson,

    Tom "No it isn't: you only need to "get around" if the things you need are far apart. My needs to get around, apart from within a 1km radius, are pretty minimal, and the few times that I need to leave the CBD, public transport generally suffices."

    Yup. Won't it be great when all of NZ is like that. Also a cure for cancer will be good too. Which will come sooner?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8598 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford,

    I doubt you can pick one thing (not vital to survival like breathing) that all humans love.
    How about ... love?
    Curse you Brown and your keen insight!

    But love is vital to survival! We need love In order to get past infancy.

    I want a Bavarian Loremo. No I need one so that my mates will like me. This is fundamental instinctual stuff.

    Since Nov 2006 • 2752 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Finn "People are quite welcome to live there and it shouldn't make any difference to whether such legislation is discussed or passed."

    This is where we part ways. I think it does make a difference what other NZers want to do. Even teenagers. Shitting on country people for being country people isn't fair. Their needs are not irrelevant.

    Not that I buy into the argument that our driving age is based around country kids. It's only a contributing factor. I would say our driving age is more based around our accepted working age. Kids can leave school and get a job at 15 and you're limiting their options even more than they have already done themselves by not allowing them to drive. Especially if they choose, for instance, to get a job driving, which is a perfectly valid profession for tens of thousands of people.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8598 posts Report Reply

  • Finn Higgins,

    This is where we part ways. I think it does make a difference what other NZers want to do. Even teenagers. Shitting on country people for being country people isn't fair. Their needs are not irrelevant.

    It's not shitting on country people for being country people, it's just stating that people below a certain age are not responsible to drive vehicles. Any family moving to the country (or couple in the country planning to have kids) has to deal with how their children are to get around for the first fifteen years of their lives, and requiring them to be responsible for the transport of their children for a couple more years is considerably less onerous than any number of other laws we have that are widely held to be in the public good. Compulsory education, for example. The kids don't like it, it's inconvenient for people living in the middle of nowhere, but we generally accept that it's good for our society as a whole.

    Their needs, as you put it, are not needs. They're preferences. The law being what it is allows certain activities, but it's no more a need for a kid of fifteen to drive than it is a kid of fourteen. There has to be a line drawn somewhere, but you seem to be shutting down debate on the issue because somehow, by magic, a fifteen-year-old in the country needs to drive. Beats me why - I was living in Hawkes Bay for some of the time when I was fifteen, I don't recall needing a drivers license at any point during the whole affair. Saying that kids need the ability to drive is like saying that they need mobile phones. Sure, if they have one they'll probably find a use for it, but they seem to have survived fine without them for centuries.

    Wellington • Since Apr 2007 • 209 posts Report Reply

  • Victor Chou,

    Victor, but is your assertion actually backed up? Are countries where people learn to drive earlier actually producing better drivers?

    Nope, purely subjective and anecdotal... if reliable statistics about human behaviour and be obtained and analysed in any significantly useful manner things would be so much "better".

    Throwing more anecdotal evidence in - my previous assertion of "learned to drive earlier and thus better" within the sample of personal acquiantances are significant enough that I would avoid being the passenger in quite a large proportion of the later group if the travelling involves going from one city to another - granted 10+ yrs driving experience vs 5-7 yrs is quite a bit (plus other factors such as starting age as indication of enthusiasm for driving/natural aptitude) but the late-learners I know certainly aren't gaining competence at the rate the early-learners were.

    Straw-man like conjecture: it's a rainy day, travelling on a narrow country road, around a blind corner a truck pops up from the other direction, the driver who has had the experience (likely through close calls in his/her youthful reckless driving days) will probably be more likely to panic less and respond more appropriately.

    Of course, one can always just book a flight...

    Since Feb 2007 • 12 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Again, I'm not buying that it's all about the country kids. All I'm saying is you seem to figure their needs are irrelevant. So you call them preferences. Well, I *prefer* not to walk to the supermarket 7 kms away too. I don't *need* to. I could spend several hours carting goods to and from, sure. I'm sure people in the middle ages had to do shit like that.

    Nor do you *need* public transport to work in the city. You just prefer to. You could walk or ride a bicycle. Or choose not to work in the city. Or choose to go to London so you can catch the Tube.

    I don't get the distinction you are trying to make. Humans have needs/preferences, and when making decisions about the public interest, you have to include the interests of all the public.

    The only thing you're saying of relevance is that you don't think fifteen years olds are safe drivers. For some reason some other number seems to stick. Quite why I don't know, other than that you are probably over it. 20 year olds are probably less safe than 30 years olds too. And so on right up until our faculties begin to decline. Perhaps the only drivers allowed should be people in their late 40s? That would surely be safer.

    I think Victor has a point. Just as it takes a lot longer to learn the piano, or how to swim, when you are older, so it probably takes longer to learn to drive. There is a lot more to it than muscle memory. Peripheral vision is a big factor and numerous studies have shown that people who drive have much better peripheral vision. Does it take longer as you get older? My wifes refusal to drive has led to a general atrophy in her road sense to the point where it is incredibly frustrating to drive with her, due to her fixation on the vehicle directly in front, and panicking responses to any brake lights. I'm looking about 10 seconds ahead and have already anticipated the braking and slowed down, but to her everything is sudden. I have had lots of similar experiences with non-drivers.

    All anecdotal. Do you have any evidence of the opposite, though?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8598 posts Report Reply

  • Yamis,

    Kids can leave school and get a job at 15 and you're limiting their options even more than they have already done themselves by not allowing them to drive.

    .

    That would be 16 these days. We took away some of their rights a few years ago to do what they want and decided we should torture them a bit longer.

    On the argument about whether or not 15 year olds need to be able to drive and can get by if they have to wait another year or two... well yeah of course they can in the same way that most of us would get by if somebody amputated both of our legs. It wouldn't kill us but it would be bloody inconvenient.

    Also I just keep coming back to the stats in RB's original post about the accident rates for 15-19 year olds actually coming DOWN.

    If we go purely by them we should throw a party and congratulate young people on being more responsible on the roads than previous generations. Especially considering the higher levels of car ownership by younger people as costs have come down.

    I just made that last sentence up because I'm too lazy to go check.

    Since Nov 2006 • 879 posts Report Reply

  • Yamis,

    Ben you can add to your argument that most formula one racing drivers and all professional racing car drivers started out in the cart racing competitions when they were kids and progressed through the ranks. They didn't learn to drive when they were 20 and suddenly realised how awesome they were and turned pro.

    Practice makes perfect.

    Since Nov 2006 • 879 posts Report Reply

  • Victor Chou,

    Again, I'm not buying that it's all about the country kids. All I'm saying is you seem to figure their needs are irrelevant. So you call them preferences. Well, I *prefer* not to walk to the supermarket 7 kms away too. I don't *need* to. I could spend several hours carting goods to and from, sure. I'm sure people in the middle ages had to do shit like that.

    complete digression

    Of course horse-ownership in the middle ages wasn't as widespread (for some parts of Europe at least) as car-ownership nowadays, but as I recall there were various incidents then that showed how useful* widespread horse-ownership by up-to-no-good youths (especially along with bows and arrows) could be...

    * By useful, I mean from the standpoint of those ordering said horse-owners around, their views on the need/want dichotomy of early horse-riding training and whether the permission of which in relation to individual vs societal benefits certainly were subject to far less public scrutiny and debate than our analogous view nowadays.

    Since Feb 2007 • 12 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie,

    most formula one racing drivers and all professional racing car drivers started out in the cart racing competitions when they were kids and progressed through the ranks. They didn't learn to drive when they were 20 and suddenly realised how awesome they were and turned pro.

    Yet another boy racer, and from Taranaki:
    http://www.stuff.co.nz/4068620a1823.html

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 3564 posts Report Reply

  • Yamis,

    Of course horse-ownership in the middle ages wasn't as widespread (for some parts of Europe at least) as car-ownership nowadays, but as I recall there were various incidents then that showed how useful* widespread horse-ownership by up-to-no-good youths (especially along with bows and arrows) could be...

    John Wayne drove a pretty mean horse. Not sure what the legal blood alcohol levels were back then though for riding the nags. Probably a minimum of 4 shots of whisky with no maximum.

    Since Nov 2006 • 879 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Yamis, the tricky part is equating 'good driving' with 'safe driving'. F1 drivers will definitely have better control over a vehicle than most, but will they drive faster to compensate? Personally, I pushed the limits when I was a kid, and generally handled it. But I ran the risk of a major accident, and had many minor ones, just from pushing. Perhaps I wouldn't have pushed it had I been required to wait until I was 20. Then again, I think my wildest period behind the wheel was around 25, because I had 10 years experience by then, a gruntier car, and I figured I could handle it. I became impatient on the motorway if stuck below 140, and only started to get scared around the 170 mark.

    It's a tough subject, as is anything involving kids. Adults typically will find any fault they can in children so as to deny them responsibilities, and of course children have many faults. But they also have some massive advantages when it comes to learning things. It is the very fact that their brains are still developing that means their potential to learn driving is greater. I feel that learning responsibility is another one of those things and taking driving away leads to making it harder for kids to learn to be responsible.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8598 posts Report Reply

  • Dan Slevin,

    I couldn't believe it when my 18 year old nephew in his final year at secondary school was telling me about his mcjob at Subway . He has to start his shift at 5pm , gotta be there on time ...but when he gets there if its quiet he gets sent home for an hour or 2 and gets a phone call when it gets busy at which time he must return to resume his shift ending at 11pm - WTF . how f*** is that ? Further they are not eligible for a free subway food break until they have worked 5 hours straight .

    Crikey, if I'd had a job like that when I was a kid it would've put me off work for life.

    Oh, hold on a second...

    Wellington, NZ • Since Mar 2007 • 95 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford,

    widespread horse-ownership by up-to-no-good youths (especially along with bows and arrows) could be...

    Could be, almost as chaotic as the mullet boat hooligans of the 1920s and thirties Hauraki gulf. Those bloody hoons with there over sized main sails beating up and down the Rangitoto channel.

    Since Nov 2006 • 2752 posts Report Reply

  • Finn Higgins,

    Again, I'm not buying that it's all about the country kids. All I'm saying is you seem to figure their needs are irrelevant. So you call them preferences. Well, I *prefer* not to walk to the supermarket 7 kms away too. I don't *need* to. I could spend several hours carting goods to and from, sure. I'm sure people in the middle ages had to do shit like that.

    I live up the top of a fuck-off big hill in Karori. I have, on occasion, carried stuff up it after a supermarket shop. I prefer not to and tend to take the car down if I know I'm going shopping. But I'm not under any illusions about "needing" a car to move shopping. I survived years in York and London moving shopping with my hands or with a bike. You just change your habits: you do five-minute shops every 1-2 days on the way home instead of doing a big weekly shop, for example.

    If I don't feel the urge to change my habits I can always move.

    There are some things I need a car for - moving a few hundred kilos of musical equipment is a major one. That's the sole reason why I bother owning one, because taxi drivers won't drive gear for me.

    I don't get the distinction you are trying to make. Humans have needs/preferences, and when making decisions about the public interest, you have to include the interests of all the public.

    That's exactly what I'm trying to say. You seem to think that the only interest in play is whether people want to drive, not the negative impact that them driving could have on the rest of the population.

    I tend to err on the side of caution when it comes to putting people in a situation where they get to make life-or-death decisions for others. We wouldn't trust a fifteen-year-old with a job in air traffic control, or in a key role in a medical environment, unless they proved themselves to be seriously exceptional. It doesn't matter that they might have done the training, there are certain things in life where you are expected to gain a bit of age and maturity before you get to make decisions that could, if you fuck it up, kill somebody.

    At fifteen you are not considered prepared or responsible enough to make decisions about your own body. You can't have sex. You can't smoke. You can't drink. But, inexplicably, you're allowed to make decisions behind the wheel that are, no hyperbole, life or death. That's arse-backwards, if you ask me. If you want to introduce a kid to responsibility you don't start with the ones where fuckups cause death for themselves and others...

    Wellington • Since Apr 2007 • 209 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    "Further they are not eligible for a free subway food break until they have worked 5 hours straight ."

    Wow! When I worked a McDonalds all they gave us was half price. The breaks were the legal minimum and ruthlessly enforced.

    But they were never wankers enough to send you home during a shift just to save $. Instead, they'd find a make-work job that sucked even more than the usual suckful work. But you did get paid. $4.50 an hour, as I recall. My favourite job was compacting garbage, the only one that for some reason didn't need constant nagging supervision from some jumped up mini-Hitler.

    Time to lean, time to clean!

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8598 posts Report Reply

  • steven crawford,

    Finn, You make a good point. The intent of the learner driver legislation then the restricted is to address the immaturity issue to some extent.

    Since Nov 2006 • 2752 posts Report Reply

  • Victor Chou,

    Then again, I think my wildest period behind the wheel was around 25, because I had 10 years experience by then, a gruntier car, and I figured I could handle it. I became impatient on the motorway if stuck below 140, and only started to get scared around the 170 mark.

    Also I think changes in cars aimed to satisfy the general public tends to insulate the driver from the environment and give a false sense of security. When a modern vehicle with its generous power-steering and grip* provides enough feedback to warn the driver that something is wrong, chances are it's too late (for the skill of your average driver anyway).

    *Especially since late 1990's onwards (for Japanese cars at least), based on personal experience (driving, not crashing) from a couple of years ago owning a Subaru Legacy for several months before it got stolen.

    Since Feb 2007 • 12 posts Report Reply

  • Yamis,

    At fifteen you are not considered prepared or responsible enough to make decisions about your own body. You can't have sex. You can't smoke. You can't drink.

    yeah you can. Your'e just not allowed by law ;)

    On the carrying shopping thing, do you live alone or just shop for yourself?

    If I tried to carry a couple of days groceries home to our house I think I'd still be walking a week later. Bit harder doing it for a family.

    We wouldn't trust a fifteen-year-old with a job in air traffic control, or in a key role in a medical environment,

    That's never going to happen because they can't leave school until they are 16 and then would have to undergo years of tertiary education before being qualified enough to perform those tasks.

    I think though having argued on the side of giving the kids a break that we should consider raising the age to 16 simply because one of the big arguments for it being 15 was that many young people had left school and needed to get to work. Since the leaving age has been raised to 16 maybe the driving age could follow suit. I don't think I got my full license until I was 18 cos I was a wuss.

    Since Nov 2006 • 879 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    "At fifteen you are not considered prepared or responsible enough to make decisions about your own body. You can't have sex. You can't smoke. You can't drink. But, inexplicably, you're allowed to make decisions behind the wheel that are, no hyperbole, life or death. That's arse-backwards, if you ask me. If you want to introduce a kid to responsibility you don't start with the ones where fuckups cause death for themselves and others..."

    I agree. I think all those ages should be dropped. It's a modern phenomenon to treat mature humans as children. Why are people surprised when they act like children?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8598 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    I'd say force everyone to learn driving in a something like a manual MX-5

    Plus, the lad might get laid driving one of those. More likely than a '90 Corolla with imitation chrome hubcaps..

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 4467 posts Report Reply

  • Victor Chou,

    At fifteen you are not considered prepared or responsible enough to make decisions about your own body. You can't have sex. You can't smoke. You can't drink. But, inexplicably, you're allowed to make decisions behind the wheel that are, no hyperbole, life or death. That's arse-backwards, if you ask me. If you want to introduce a kid to responsibility you don't start with the ones where fuckups cause death for themselves and others...

    But whereas sex/smoking/drinking are mainly just consumerist recreational activities (well smoking/drinking at least) the ability to drive has far greater economic consequences, ass-backwards yes, but economically-sound ass-backwardness.

    Of course this assertion opens up the flood-gate to the whole "must everything be reduced to economics" mess, for that I apologise.

    Since Feb 2007 • 12 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg,

    I drove around a bit of Bali last year. While crazy, I think the drivers are actually quite skilled at avoiding impact. Plus I guess the cost of a smash in typical hours worked is a great deal more than NZ?

    I hope you weren't the crazy bule that almost drove me off the road in Ubud last Sept!.

    The biggest danger here is the tourist on the road thinking they're bulletproof, but since the ockers have been scared off and the swarms are now largely European (Bali had it's biggest tourist month ever last month), it's improved out of sight...Italians understand motorised insanity. It is an artform, but is largely do-able if you get into the psyche. And there is no road rage...zip...it simply doesn't exist.

    Car repairs are a fraction, even accounting for the the earning gap, of what they are in the west. A decent ding in a car is rarely more than US$20 to repair, and when one considers that the car owners are well off, it's not a lot.

    Also, at Bali speeds I suspect more accidents are survivable.

    true, but there seem to be substantially fewer minor dings too, which considering the density...

    And you've perhaps not driven the new Sanur-Candidasa bypass. There is nothing like a grossly overladen truck coming around a blind corner on your side of the road at 120kmh to make one instantly reconsider one's probability of seeing the sun rise one more time.

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3208 posts Report Reply

  • Victor Chou,

    Plus, the lad might get laid driving one of those. More likely than a '90 Corolla with imitation chrome hubcaps...

    That raised section between the seats for the drive shaft and the gear stick on top of it makes things rather difficult...

    Since Feb 2007 • 12 posts Report Reply

  • jon_knox,

    I was having a look at Metafilter which had a link to a utube video of the American Civil War in 4 minutes. I figured I've got 4 mins to be less ignorant about American history and then found a "Related" clip which was both amazing and disturbing. I can only assume these clips are coming out of the US forces.

    Osterreich • Since Nov 2006 • 461 posts Report Reply

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