Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Staying Alive

347 Responses

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  • Maz, in reply to Islander,

    I did say, and mean, two abreast. Of course riders shouldn't take up the entire (half) road. As a driver and cyclist, however, I find being held up a heck of lot less infuriating than someone endangering my life with their careless/reckless driving.

    And re driver training, the idea was for all drivers to go through professional training and real tests. I couldn't believe it when I sat my theoretical test for my NZ license, and the very friendly AA lady said, "oh, you can just buy a copy of the four different test sheets and practice on them, dear". I.e. you may not know a thing, but if you have half a memory, there you go.

    Could we please start doing things right and not half-arsedly?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2010 • 30 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to BenWilson,

    selling it to user-pays society is the hard part

    And that's what the political left has to show it's capable of doing again.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19413 posts Report Reply

  • Islander, in reply to George Darroch,

    At which point she booked in of her own accord for a few hours supervised with an instructor, who pointed out gently some of her failings and how to address them.

    My mother, who is her mid-80s, drives an automatic early1990s BMW. She belongs to a group called Probis, which, for one of their monthly meetings, invited a specialist driving instructor along to present his programme. She signed up for 2 subsidised hour long drives, with this bloke taking note of any detrimental habits* or driving flaws. She learned quite as bit, and found it well worth the $50 it cost her.
    I turn 65 next month – you are required to have a medical check, and basically resit your driving test before your licence is renewed. Before I do that, I’ll be paying the same driving instructor to point out any driving flaws I may have accumulated over the past half century. It’s a loonng time since I did that
    safe/defensive driving course…

    *The only faults he found were a tendency to become distracted if he talked to her, and not using indicator lights when merging.

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Maz,

    Could we please start doing things right and not half-arsedly?

    As a nation, we have tolerated cheap and short-sighted far too readily.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19413 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to George Darroch,

    Driving a car is a privilege. Having sat with a number of drivers whose inadequacies scare me, I think there's call to have people take supervision about once per decade, and if necessary have those people referred for further training. This wouldn't address the wilfully dangerous, but it would greatly increase safety for the rest of us.

    Totally agree. How we pay for road safety is a political choice. Ongoing carnage and privatised medical care is one way..

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19413 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Waugh, in reply to Islander,

    Generally, these are tourist groups...

    Oh, yes, had a lot of trouble of that nature last summer out in Yanqing, expecting more such trouble once the weather warms up. The county government put up signs marking some of the rural roads as a cycle touring route, which is a great idea, except that the tourists don't pay any attention to the fact that the roads are shared use and have many cars, buses and trucks, and have no separate cycle lane. And I know they're tourists because they aren't dressed like they're on the way to or from their fields and aren't carrying farming tools. Turn a corner and slam on the brakes because some fool of a tourist is riding in the centre of the lane completely ignoring the fact there are also motor vehicles on the road. Couple of polite toots to let them know there are cars coming up behind them and they might wish to move over, as is the custom here, a local would move over, but the tourists just sit there in the middle of the lane. I've got no problem slowing down and waiting for a safe spot to pass, but it helps a lot when the cyclists cooperate and cycle like they actually want to get home in one piece.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 2384 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Maz,

    Could we please start doing things right and not half-arsedly?

    To be fair, the tests are now computerised and the order (of questions, and the answers within) is random. The “memorise the ‘practice’ scratchies” (there were 20 combinations in use by MOT/LTSA, and one could buy all of them from BP for about $40) option no longer exists. You do have to know the answers now.

    I’ve advocated retesting with every renewal for a long time. In my previous involvement with the Fire Service, I was marking the theory component of a driving competition. All competitors were “brigade drivers” (meaning authorised to drive the big red trucks as emergency vehicles), and had to take the class 1 (car) and class 2 (light truck to 15,000kg) scratchy tests. Of about 25 drivers, fewer than half passed the class 1 and only three passed the class 2. That scared me, especially the guy who got the wrong answer for “What is the speed limit after passing this [accident] sign?”

    We’re making it hard to get a licence, finally, but it’ll be three generations before everyone who got a licence under the various old, inadequate systems finally shuffles their way off the roads.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4090 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Matthew Poole,

    but it’ll be three generations before everyone who got a licence under the various old, inadequate systems finally shuffles their way off the roads.

    I kind of like the idea of the 10 year retest cycle. Things do change, after all. Rules change, eyesight changes, conditions change. Such obsessive retesting is basic in so many other vehicles. Failing the tests is not something to fear - statistics suggest that people who fail their first driving test are more likely to survive, that their arrogance takes a much needed knock. If you can retest rapidly, it's not that disruptive to life (especially compared to having a car crash).

    I should probably lose my motorbike license - it's been many years since I rode and you lose the touch. But the license says I can go out and buy a superbike today, and ride it home.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10504 posts Report Reply

  • Stewart,

    Sorry to say that if you make the licensing more onerous you will just have a greater prevalence of those wankers who can physically drive but don't have a licence. And hence no insurance and usually no social obligation to play by the rules.

    Are you scared enough yet?

    Te Ika A Maui - Whakatane… • Since Oct 2008 • 577 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Waugh, in reply to Stewart,

    That's why we have police - y'know, to like, enforce the rules?

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 2384 posts Report Reply

  • Stewart,

    Chris, you've been away too long...

    It seems like half the accidents involve people with no licence (admittedly generally disqualified drivers rather than those that never got one to start with, but I don't want to increase the incidence of either).

    Te Ika A Maui - Whakatane… • Since Oct 2008 • 577 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Waugh, in reply to Stewart,

    Chris, you’ve been away too long…

    Yeah, maybe, but aren't people caught driving while disqualified or otherwise without a licence usually prosecuted? Still, would be nice if they were caught before they crash.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 2384 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Stewart,

    Are you scared enough yet?

    No. And it's a bullshit argument against making it more difficult to exercise the legal privilege of controlling a lethal weapon. Driving is a privilege, and your argument pretty much predicates on it being a right. If you don't get a licence, you should expect automatic vehicle seizure and disposal, home detention, and a healthy fine. No soft options. We don't fuck about with people who break the law on firearms, so why do we pussy-foot about with people who break the law on vehicles? They're no less lethal, and infinitely more dangerous.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4090 posts Report Reply

  • Stewart,

    Yes, Matthew, and I meant every word of it... </sarc>

    I was just pointing out that there is a sub-section of society that scoffs at our ideas of civilised behaviour and cocks a proverbial snook at rules, licences and the like.

    Te Ika A Maui - Whakatane… • Since Oct 2008 • 577 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Waugh, in reply to Matthew Poole,

    They’re no less lethal, and infinitely more dangerous.

    And they would seem to be involved in a lot more death, destruction and general mayhem than are firearms.

    One thing I've seen on main roads entering Beijing - way out on the border with Hebei, so a long way before the city - is the traffic cops putting huge concrete blocks in the road that force absolutely all drivers to go through a checkpoint. It's a pain in the arse coming back from my brother in law's place because the traffic is so heavy, but coming back from a different part of Hebei over CNY it was quite amusing to see a big billboard warning truckies they're about to find themselves in a world of trouble if they're overloaded.

    Imagine if the NZ Police did that, simply blocked the road so that nobody could avoid a checkpoint.

    Oh, and cameras that can see if you've got your seatbelt on or you're using your cellphone while driving. I saw an article reporting Victoria and New South Wales were looking at buying similar cameras.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 2384 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to Matthew Poole,

    We don’t fuck about with people who break the law on firearms, so why do we pussy-foot about with people who break the law on vehicles? They’re no less lethal, and infinitely more dangerous.

    The keywords are, "when used as directed". But still, more creative ways of enforcement need to be looked at. For instance, instead of plain old traffic fines which have no guarantee of being paid, why not immobilisation of the owner's vehicle for a certain period?

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5328 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Waugh, in reply to Kumara Republic,

    Buy the Police some tow trucks so they can instantly confiscate the vehicles of offenders.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 2384 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    I have noticed that in other countries, the same type of people who in NZ drive like dicks in their own cars steal other peoples instead.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5539 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to Chris Waugh,

    Buy the Police some tow trucks so they can instantly confiscate the vehicles of offenders.

    Or wheel clamps, which would be a lot cheaper.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5328 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Waugh, in reply to Kumara Republic,

    Yeah, 'cept I like seeing the traffic cops patrolling in Police-liveried tow trucks. It's a nice reminder to behave myself cos I don't have my bus card on me. Also, clamping somebody on the side of the road doesn't seem the best idea, but a Police tow truck can confiscate their vehicle instantly.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 2384 posts Report Reply

  • Ben McNicoll,

    Seeing as we’ve veered into driver enforcement/education etc… here’s my modest proposal:

    A compulsory device for vehicles (phased in) that:

    - Disables ignition until insertion of valid smart card license.
    - Uses GPS to track local speed limit, warns if exceeded, and imposes instant fines for exceeding tolerance after the warning period. Fines are lowish at first, but increase over time. More effective at modifiying behaviour because it happens every single time.
    - Possibly require breath screening if flagged for previous drink driving on license

    Seems like the base technology is available and a device could be developed for a quite reasonable couple of hundred bucks per device, based on price of my android smart phone. Spread the cost over a couple of countries etc.

    Device cost could be heavily subsidised by fine take. License design so compliant devices can be built in by car manufacturers.

    Yep, would be some issues around surveillance and privacy to take care of, but most arguments against this that I anticipate come down to people arguing for the right to break the law if they think they won’t get caught.

    Doesn’t stop people from being dicks to cyclists etc, but could potentially be of use as a black box in case of car accidents too.

    ETA: Within a few years, I expect to see more technology with awareness of other cars on the road anyway, so the specs of these things would evolve to include other dangerous/dickish behaviour such as tailgating, excessive acceleration.

    Seems to me that the enforcement isn't keeping up with tech with potential to be fence at top of cliff, rather than holding out threat of possibly being caught as ambulance (literally) at bottom.

    Grey Lynn • Since May 2007 • 114 posts Report Reply

  • Ben McNicoll,

    Oh yeah, and pilot the thing in commercial vehicles first perhaps.

    ETA: Steven Joyce would LOVE that.

    Grey Lynn • Since May 2007 • 114 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Waugh, in reply to Ben McNicoll,

    And take the pitlane speed limiters from Formula 1 and put them in all vehicles so that it becomes physically impossible to exceed the speed limit. Hook them up to your device so that if the speed limiter is disabled, the car won't go, and the GPS will set the speed limiter to whatever the limit is on that stretch of road. Oh wait, then you'd lose the income from speeding fines...

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 2384 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Ben McNicoll,

    Doesn’t stop people from being dicks to cyclists

    it might if there was a proximity sensor that automatically fined any motorist for being within say a foot of one

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19413 posts Report Reply

  • James Butler, in reply to Chris Waugh,

    And take the pitlane speed limiters from Formula 1 and put them in all vehicles so that it becomes physically impossible to exceed the speed limit. Hook them up to your device so that if the speed limiter is disabled, the car won’t go, and the GPS will set the speed limiter to whatever the limit is on that stretch of road. Oh wait, then you’d lose the income from speeding fines…

    I’ve heard this suggested seriously, and I agree that if we were starting all over with the whole cars thing it would actually be an excellent idea. BUT, unlike the instant fine/ignition lock thingy described upthread, it would be pretty much impossible to implement on existing vehicles. So then you’d have 20+ years before the majority of the fleet were fitted with it, and a massive perverse incentive for people to hang on to older cars.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2009 • 856 posts Report Reply

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