The Press on open road speed limits

April 1st, 2013 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Press editorial:

For as long as many people can remember, the open-road speed limit for driving in this country has not changed. It has not increased significantly since the late 1960s when it was raised, under the old imperial system, from 55 miles per hour to 60mph – the equivalent of 96kmh, so not significantly different than the 100kmh that applies today on highways and motorways.

Umm, that is missing out a big chunk of history. The open road limit may have been 60 miles per hours, but in 1973 due to oil shocks, it dropped to 80 km/hr or 50 miles/hr.

It was only in 1986 it went to 100 km/hr.

So far from the open road limit rarely changing, the changes have been:

  • 1962 – from 50 mph to 55 mph
  • 1969 – from 55 mph to 60 mph
  • 1973 – from 60 mph to 50 mph or 80 kmh
  • 1986 – from 80 kmh to 100 kmh

Consider the cars that Kiwis were driving when the speed limit was last raised.

There is a world of difference between the engineering and safety standards of 21st-century cars and the likes of the Morris Minor, the original Mini, the Ford Cortina, the Holden Kingswood, the Rover 2000 and the Hillman Imp. Road engineering, too, has improved during those decades. Seen in this context, a proposal to raise the limit by only 10kmh on a relatively small number of top roads can be seen as very modest.

The difference in car safety and engineering is massive.

The speed limit is a maximum, not a target, and the rules – so often observed mainly in the breach – state that people should drive at a speed under the limit that is appropriate to the road, traffic, weather and other conditions.

If the speed limit is increased on engineered motorways, this should not be taken as an indication to drive at 110km on the open road or rural highways, where a 110kmh speed limit would not be appropriate.

Yep – drive the the conditions. Sometimes that will be 110 km/h and sometimes 70 km/h.

Tags: , , ,

A stupid editorial

March 30th, 2013 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The HoS Herald editorial:

You have to hand it to the National Road Safety Committee. These public servants don’t conceal their view that the Cabinet needs to lower blood-alcohol limits for drivers. While the politicians wait, inexplicably, for research on safety gains of lowering the adult alcohol limit from 80 to 50 milligrams per 100 millilitres of blood, the committee pulls no punches.

The HoS and Herald has been running a campaign for over a year demanding the Government do what it says, and not complete its research. To have a hysterical editorial saying that it is inexplicable they are waiting for research speaks for itself.

They also mischaracterise what the research is. It is not research into whether there would be safety gains from lowering the blood alcohol limit to 50. You don’t need research to tell you that. There would also be safety gains from lowering it to zero. There would be safety gains from dropping the speed limit to 20 km/hr.

What the hysterical HoS demands the Government  not find out is how much of an impact a lower limit would have, and what the cost would be – ie how many people legally drive at an 50 to 80 level, and would be criminalised for doing so in the future.

If you claim there is no need to know this data, then why is 50 the right level to go to? Why not 60? Why not 40?

Its latest Safer Journeys report says: “Any level of alcohol increases driving errors, and affects alertness, skill and judgments … we need the adult legal breath-alcohol concentration limits to better reflect the risk that alcohol poses to all road users and communities.”

Of course any level of alcohol increases risk. Just as any level of speed increases risk.

The committee has leapfrogged the research project – an excuse for inaction by former Transport Minister Steven Joyce – and suggested a new solution: variable limits for types of drivers. While those under 20 already face a zero limit, the committee proposes new levels “lower than the default” for those with drink-drive convictions, commercial licences, in different adult age bands and with existing demerit points.

Not a bad idea. Worth considering.

It is worth looking at the blood alcohol levels in over 25 year old drivers who are fatally injured. In 2011 it was:

  • None – 36
  • 0 to 30 – 68
  • 31 to 50 – 3
  • 51 – 80 – 2
  • 81 to 100 – 2
  • 100 to 150 – 3
  • 150 to 250 – 20
  • 250+ 15

I’m yet to be convinced drivers in the 51 to 80 range are the problem.

Tags: ,

A good Coroner’s recommendation

February 20th, 2013 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee has backed a coroner’s call to make prisoners serve their driving bans after they are freed, not while they are still in jail.

Coroner Garry Evans’ recommendation is contained in his report into the death of a young woman in a car crash caused by a paroled criminal who was on a witness protection programme at the time.

Debbie Ashton, 20, died when repeat driving offender Jonathan Barclay, a former P addict, smashed into her car while speeding and drunk, near Nelson in December 2006.

Barclay has twice served out driving bans while in prison for more serious offending. Both times he has gone on to crash into other people.

Seems like a no brainer to me.

In a statement last night, Mr Brownlee said he had asked officials from the justice and transport ministries to look into the recommendation. Any change would require an amendment to legislation, which meant it would have to be put before Parliament.

Will the Greens oppose it as they could argue it punishes the criminal twice?

Tags: , ,

Herald on WOF changes

January 29th, 2013 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The NZ Herald editorial:

The reaction of motor industry lobbyists suggests the Government’s changes to the warrant of fitness system are as radical as they are ill-considered. Far from it. The new rules are the least extreme of the options that were considered, and remain more stringent than those in many comparable countries. They also represent a reasonable balance between safety, the prime consideration, and cost savings. In sum, the Government has acted appropriately in responding to the great improvements in vehicle safety since six-monthly inspections were introduced in the 1930s.

It is a good point that the rules actually remain more stringent than most countries.

Change, however, is necessary. There is no reason New Zealand motorists should have to endure more frequent warrant of fitness checks than their counterparts overseas. Once, in the days of high import costs, this country’s car fleet was noticeably aged and, therefore, more prone to defects that could result in serious accidents. But two things have happened. First, our fleet now bears a far greater resemblance to those overseas in terms of age. Second, cars have become far more reliable. Frequent inspections are not a panacea. The number of accidents linked to vehicle faults here is the same as in other countries at about 2.5 per cent – or 0.5 per cent where they are the only cause. Liquor and speed are far greater factors.

This is the key point. Our problems are that NZ roads are generally pretty crappy and people driving too fast for the conditions. The accident rate due to car defects is extremely low.

Tags: , , ,

Fewer WoF checks

January 27th, 2013 at 3:10 pm by David Farrar

Simon Bridges has announced:

Changes to New Zealand’s warrant of fitness system, which will see annual inspections for cars registered after 2000, will save motorists time and money and will also focus on road safety, says Associate Transport Minister Simon Bridges.

The key changes to the warrant of fitness system (WoF) include:

  • An initial inspection for new cars, followed by annual inspections once  vehicles are three years old

  • Annual inspections for vehicles three years and older and first registered on or after 1 January 2000

  • Six-monthly inspections for vehicles first registered before 1 January 2000

Excellent. I find the six month WOF checks on relatively new cars a silly hassle and a waste of time and money.

The Motor Trade Assn will of course be unhappy, because they own a chain of testing stations. But mechanical defects are implicated in only 2.5% of vehicle crashes and are the sole cause in only 0.4% – experts have said the impact on safety will be minimal.

Ministry of Transport research shows that the package of changes will benefit motorists and businesses by $159 million a year, and by at least $1.8 billion over 30 years.  This includes savings in inspection and compliance costs, justice and enforcement costs, and time spent by motorists getting their WoF.

Mr Bridges says these savings will have a flow-on benefit for the wider economy.

The MTA have also said there will be 2,000 jobs lost due to this decision. Now of course that is a nonsense figure, but even if it was true their argument is flawed. The purpose of WOF checks is not to create jobs for garages, If that was the purpose, we’d have monthly WOF checks.

An economy does better when people get to voluntarily choose what they spend their money on. The annual saving of $160 million will benefit other areas of the economy.

The debate should be about balancing risk and cost.  I think this new regime is a far better balance than the old one.

The AA (which unlike the MTA has no commercial interests involved in the decision) has pointed out:

New Zealand has the most frequent vehicle safety inspection in the world. No other country requires cars aged 6 years or older (most of our fleet) to be tested twice a year.

Some countries have an annual inspection, and many only every two years. Others, like much of Australia and the United States, have no regular inspection at all.

Most vehicles in New Zealand are tested every 6000km. In Britain they’re tested every 19,000km, and in Germany vehicles travel about 32,000km between inspections.

Yet despite these differences in inspection frequency the number of crashes caused by vehicle faults in New Zealand is about the same as other countries at about 2.5 per cent – or less than half a per cent where it is the sole cause.

This suggests that inspection frequency is not a silver bullet.

The question is, can we have a less-frequent test without increasing crash rates, and the international evidence suggests we can.

This is a good example of the Government acting in the public interest, and refusing to bow to a scare campaign by vested interests. We need more decisions like this.

Tags: , , , ,

Speed limits

January 17th, 2013 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Jamie Morton at NZ Herald reports:

A quarter of us are driving above the speed limit on the open road.

The Ministry of Transport’s 2012 Speed Survey, released exclusively to the Herald, shows the percentage of motorists exceeding the speed limit on the open road dropped from 31 per cent in 2011 to 25 per cent last year.

That would appear to be a good thing.

More relevant is where the speeding has occurred  There are some open roads where 110 km/hr is safe as houses and some where going over 70 km/hr is certifiable.

But while drivers may be easing off the throttle, police and officials have no plans to slow down their war against speeding.

Of course not.

Associate Transport Minister Simon Bridges said the Government would this year push ahead with new anti-speeding initiatives he could not yet reveal.

I hope they are well targeted, such as focusing on areas with high accident rates.

Tags: ,

Five year limit on learner and restricted licenses

January 11th, 2013 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Sam Boyer at Dom Post reports:

A time limit restricting novice drivers from holding their learner and restricted licences for too long is set to be introduced.

The Government plans to change the law by 2015 so that learner and restricted drivers will be obliged to gain their full licence within five years, or be forced to resit tests, Associate Transport Minister Simon Bridges announced yesterday.

At present, drivers can remain on their learner or restricted licences indefinitely, having to update their licence card only once a decade.

Currently, 37 per cent of learner drivers have held their licences for more than six years, as well as 32 per cent of restricted drivers. Three drivers in the country have held their learner licences for 25 years or more.

“The Government intends to limit learner and restricted licence periods to five years to encourage drivers to move through the . . . system,” Mr Bridges said.

“The [system] never intended drivers to stay on a learner or restricted licence indefinitely. What these drivers need to do is demonstrate their skills and competence and graduate to a full licence in a reasonable time.”

Seems reasonable to me. You don’t want people staying on a learner license for ever.

Tags:

Compulsory helmets for quad bikes

January 7th, 2013 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald editorial:

The industry guidelines are not, of course, a legal requirement. That, in itself, may be reinforcing a cavalier attitude. Coroners, in voicing their safety concerns, have suggested the likes of full or partial roll bars and laps belts, as well as making the guidelines a matter of legal compulsion. The practicality and impact of roll bars have been disputed by farmers. They may have a point, but the circumstances of the Hawkes Bay accident reinforce the case for the compulsory use of safety helmets and preventing those under 15 from riding them.

Ashlee Petrowski’s plight should prompt the Government to investigate whether the industry guidelines should become mandatory. Such an intrusive step should not be taken lightly. Quad bikes are a vital tool on farms. But accidents will continue as long as there is a lax attitude towards safety. Last year’s toll indicates that education programmes have not been a total success in altering attitudes and dangerous practices.

Recklessness remains a concern. So, too, does the impact of stress and fatigue from working long hours, which the police have identified as a cause of some quad-bike crashes. Whatever the reason, there seems, increasingly, to be little reason for rural areas to be exempt from urban safety standards.

Applying the rules of the road, to private land is a huge intrusion. And as awful as the injuries are to young Ashlee, I’m sorry but can you just imagine farmers being forced to drive around their own properties wearing helmets. Will never ever happen!

Tags: , , ,

Tourist road crashes

January 3rd, 2013 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports with a headline:

Road risks in spotlight as tourists tally 400 crashes

Sounds bad. But in the story:

Overseas drivers were involved in more than 400 crashes on New Zealand roads last year, and failure to keep left, poor handling and fatigue the leading causes of deadly crashes.

The number is down on previous years – in line with a wider trend of a reducing death toll on New Zealand roads – but the number of foreign drivers involved in multi-victim crashes has prompted calls for tourists to make themselves familiar with the country’s “unique driving challenges”.

Three American tourists were killed in a crash near Turangi in May, and four Argentines died in a head-on crash in July in the central North Island.

 So the concern is over a crash in May and a crash in July. Now all avoidable crashes are lamentable, but are two multi-victim crashes involving foreign drivers significant? What I would like to know is how many multi-victim crashes there are a year, and what the rate of such crashes is per number of drivers (local and foreign) or even better per number of kms driven.

Downward trend
Overseas drivers and accidents

2012: 406 accidents, 15 fatal

2011: 559 accidents, 15 fatal

2010: 617 accidents, 20 fatal

2009: 704 accidents, 21 fatal

A reduction in accidents from 704 to 406 would seem to be a cause for celebration. Now the article said this is in line with an overall reduction in the road toll. But are they dropping at the same rate. Let’s look at the number of overall crashes.

The number of accidents by tourists dropped 42% over three years. The number of total accidents from 2009 to 2011 (2012 data not yet out but the road toll suggests not lower than 2011) dropped from 11,125 to 9,804 or 11.8%.

Another way to look at it is in 2009, foreign drivers were involved in 6.3% of road crashes, dropping to 5.7% in 2011 and if total crashes in 2012 is same as 2011, dropping further to 4.1%.

What I’d find interesting again is what proportion of drivers are foreign or tourists? If it is more than 4.1% then that may suggest they are safer drivers than NZers!

Tags:

Let’s ban chips in cars!

December 18th, 2012 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Cassandra Mason at NZ Herald reports:

A young man who was killed when his car left the road and crashed into a tree was eating chips and dip at the time of the crash, a coroner has found.

I expect the Government to now ban the eating of chips in cars. Or maybe it was the dip?

Tags:

More on WOF checks

December 13th, 2012 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Clive Matthew-Wilson writes at Stuff:

The proposed changes to the vehicle licensing laws are a case in point. According to the Government, most of the changes involve stretching out the period between warrants of fitness (WOFs) from six to 12 months.

Sounds good. The government geeks assured us there would be no safety compromises as a result. Beware of geeks bearing gifts.

No, they never said there would be no compromise. They said the benefits probably do not exceed the costs.

Despite a glowing endorsement of the Government’s plans by the AA (which is the beneficiary of several lucrative government contracts), the best independent research suggests the average motorist will save very little and might lose a lot.

A ridiculous attack on the AA. The AA has battled Governments on many many issues they disagree with.  To suggest they are not impartial is a classic attacking the man, not the ball. Add to that the mischaracterisation of what the Government has said, and he is off to a bad start.

A recent independent report by Australia’s Monash University, contradicts many of the claims by the Government and the AA.

The report concluded that extending the WOF period from six to 12 months is likely to increase the road death toll by between 1.3 deaths and 25.6 deaths per year. Monash also predicts injury accidents might increase by between 16 and 325 per year.

Not the selective cherry-picking. He overlooks the actual conclusion from Monash. The report is here.

In terms of the cost-effectiveness of the New Zealand WoF scheme as a whole, we placed the known costs of the scheme to the motorist as one side of the cost-benefit equation and then estimated the necessary benefits to equal these costs, represented by Figure 10. The benefits started to exceed the costs only when the drop in crash rate associated with the scheme reached 12%. This is evidently quite a demandingly high level of injury reduction. It is unlikely from the literature and from the rate of fault detection in the NZ WoF scheme that 12% of crashes can even be considered to be caused by mechanical defects, let alone able to be prevented by periodic inspection and repairs.

So Monash said that six monthly WOF checks are only cost effective if they reduce the crash rate by 12%.

Now recall that mechanical defects are implicated in only 2.5% of vehicle crashes and are the sole cause in only 0.4% and you see that there is no way the six monthly checks reduce the road toll by 12%.

So Monash concluded:

Despite these safety benefits estimated, the costs to the motorist of the 6-monthly inspections over and above the annual inspections were estimated to be considerable. This means that the 6-monthly inspections compared to annual inspections were not considered to be cost-effective.

But Matthew-Wilson said:

The Monash report found: “[changing the period for WOFs from six months to 12 months is] not considered to be cost effective”. In other words, there will be little or no saving from the changes.

That is the exact opposite of what they found. Go read the report for yourself.

Tags: , ,

Bullshit

December 7th, 2012 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Mathew Dearnaley at NZ Herald reports:

Motor industry lobbyists are citing “huge” regional variations in the ages of vehicles on New Zealand roads in their campaign against any loosening of the existing warrant of fitness system.

Although the average age of the national fleet is 13.03 years, Government statistics reveal a wide range from 10.3 years in central Auckland to 16.8 years in Waimate in south Canterbury.

Which is a red herring.

That has prompted the Motor Trade Association, representing repair workshops and service stations, to warn policy-makers to think twice before changing the existing requirement for six-monthly warrants of fitness for any vehicle more than six years old to be allowed to stay on the road.

The MTA own VTNZ whose main source of income is WOF checks. I’m surprise they do not advocate the checks should be weekly.

The warning comes as the Government is expected to choose in the next fortnight from four potential alternatives, such as annual inspections for the first 12 years of a vehicle’s life, as favoured by the Automobile Association and about 70 per cent of its members.

That sounds more reasonable.

Although Australian university researchers believe that could save motorists up to $250 million a year, the MTA warns it could be at the cost of 80 more annual road deaths.

Oh, absolute bullshit.

The road toll last year was 282, so the MTA is claiming the number of road deaths will increase 28% if cars between six and twelve years old are checked annually instead of every six months.

That is strongly disputed by the AA, which says mechanical defects are implicated in only 2.5 per cent of vehicle crashes and are the sole cause of just 0.4 per cent.

So of 282 deaths, around seven are due to mechanical defects in part and one in full.

So in fact the MTA is claiming the number of crashes causing deaths from mechanical defects will increase by over 1000% due to going from six monthly to twelve monthly WOF checks.

I don’t mind industry groups trying to do what is good for their industry. But when they resort to such unadulterated bullshit, and scare-mongering, they do their industry a dis-service. It also means they will have diminished credibility on any other issues going forward.

Tags: , ,

Is this correct?

September 26th, 2012 at 6:15 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Wellington road policing manager Inspector Pete Baird said most buses trundled along the Golden Mile at between 13kmh and 17kmh but getting hit by a 12-tonne bus “is like getting hit by a car at 140kmh”.

Is it? Instinctively I’d choose a bus at 17 km/hr over a car at 140 km/hr? I’ve been run over by a bus, but never hit by one, so I can’t judge off experience.

Someone with a better memory of physics want to calculate the force in each case?

Incidentally the article is on lowering the speed limit in the golden mile from 30 km/hr to 20 km/hr, which I’m fine with.

Tags:

Drug testing for drivers

August 27th, 2012 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

More than half the drivers taken to hospital after causing a crash were found to have drugs in their system, a study has found.

The Ministry of Transport study used blood samples taken from 453 drivers who caused crashes.

Drugs were detected in the systems of 258 drivers, analysis by the Institute of Environmental Science and Research (ESR) found.

Of that group, 156 were found to be on drugs not administered by a medical professional

Ninety people sent to hospital had both cannabis and alcohol in their system.

Yesterday, the Automobile Association renewed its calls for random roadside saliva tests to be used to target drug drivers.

I support this.

The data above indicates a much much higher presence of drugs in drivers who have crashed than in the normal population. Now there are issues around drug testing, as the presence doesn’t mean a current impairment (unlike alcohol). But I have long thought that drugged driving is as big an issue as drunk driving – and we need to reduce the prevalence of both to make our roads safer.

Tags: ,

WOF changes

May 26th, 2012 at 11:43 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

The Government could scrap the need for a Warrant of Fitness on new cars under changes to the vehicle licensing regime.

New cars would first be checked two years after being sold, followed by inspections at four and six years. Thereafter, they would need a yearly Warrant of Fitness. The current six-monthly WoF on cars over six years old could be moved out to 12 months.

The changes are part of government proposals to lower the annual compliance costs of the WoF, vehicle registrations and the certificate of fitness and transport services licensing systems.

This seems pretty sensible for me. The timing of WOF checks should be based on the probability of there having been faults develop during that period which make the car less safe to drive. I don’t know what the data is, but this should be an evidence based decsion.

Opponents say changes would put people out of work, affecting Vehicle Inspection NZ, Vehicle Testing NZ stations and small garages.

“The neighbourhood corner garage relies on six-monthly WoFs for its bread and butter,” said one man. “Switching to a year on older cars and two years on new ones would force many of the smaller garages to close.”

Sigh. Arguments like this depress me. This is effectively arguing that the reason we require WOF checks, is to create jobs in garages. Well why stop there, let’s require monthly checks and that will be a huge boost for jobs in garages.

Sustainable jobs are those based on their being a legitimate demand for the associated services or goods.

Tags:

Flashing lights

May 26th, 2012 at 10:30 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

It is against the law in New Zealand to flash a car’s headlights to warn other motorists of a speed camera, but a Florida court has ruled it is okay.

United States judge Alan Dickey has ruled that using car lights to communicate to other road users is engaging in behaviour protected by the US Constitution.

Superb. I love the First Amendment.

In New Zealand, a motorist is not allowed to flash car lights `dazzling, confusing or distracting other motorists’.

The fine for an offence of this kind is $150.

I think most motorists find that having car lights flashed at them is not dazzling, confusing or distracting. To the contrary it focuses them on ensuring they are driving safely and at a legal speed – so is a good and welcome thing.

Tags:

The open road speed limit

May 8th, 2012 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Government transport officials are being urged to consider raising the speed limit on some motorway stretches – particularly in Auckland – to 110km/h.

Very sensible. There are some roads on which that speed is entirely safe. There are also some open roads where if you drive over 60 km/hr you are a moron. Not all open roads are the same. Key issues are quality of road, width of road, median barrier, side roads, straightness, pedestrian density etc.

A call by veteran motoring writer Peter Gill to raise the limit from 100km/h along “choice” sections such as the new Hobsonville motorway gained tentative support yesterday from the Automobile Association.

Good. One happy member here.

The important thing was to match speed limits with road types, rather than to continue to widen the range with little apparent consistency.

Exactly.

But Brake chief executive Mary Williams said last night that Mr Gill and other drivers could not cheat basic laws of physics, which meant that “the faster you are going, the less time you have to react to unexpected hazards and the bigger the force of impact”.

No, but you look at what is the possibility of unexpected hazards on a particular road. On Lambton Quay it is very high as people cross over all the time so I support a 30 km/hr limit there. On the Foxton Straits the most likely hazard would be a plane crashing from the RNZAF base, so you can have a higher limit.

“A small increase in speed leads to a much bigger increase in the distance needed to sop, no matter how good your brakes are. We need to build on that, not introduce measures which present a bigger risk to road users.”

Wrong. With that sort of thinking, we would have a nationwide 20 km/hr limit. It is never about just reducing risk. You have to look at the benefits of allowing faster travel, and weigh them up against the risk.

Open road limits
* Australia 100km/h to 130km/h
* UK 113km/h (may rise to 129km/h)
* US 89km/h to 129km/h
* Japan 80km/h to 100km/h
* France 130km/h on motorways (reduced to 110km/h in rain)
* Germany No general limit on autobahns, maximum of 130km/h recommended.

Austria has no limits also. It is a real pleasure driving on their autobahns.

Tags: ,

WOF checks

April 2nd, 2012 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

NZ Herald reports:

The six month warrant of fitness check may be a thing of the past under reforms being looked at by the government.

Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee’s thrown up a host of ideas around vehicle licensing reform, with the aim of saving millions in unnecessary costs and times for both households, businesses and the government.

In the spotlight is our inspection system, which he says is one of the most frequent in the OECD.

Under the current system a warrant’s required every six months unless your car is less than five years old – then it’s an annual check.

My car has just moved from annual to six monthly checks and it is a pain. The six months fly past so quickly. I can’t think of anytime when a six month check picks anything up which is urgent and wouldn’t wait for the annual check.

Plus many drivers are having regular service inspections as well as WOF checks.

It seems no other country has WOF checks as often as NZ does.

Tags:

Another give way rule test

March 21st, 2012 at 8:58 pm by David Farrar

This test is 14 scenarios and uses actual video of being in a car. Done by Edrive. I got 14/14, so look safe from 25 March.

Tags:

8/9 on a different quiz

March 12th, 2012 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

No not a politics quiz.

On Sunday 25 March, two of our giveway rules are changing. NZTA has a 10 nine scenario quiz for you to try, to see if you will know what the law will be, after 25 March.

The one question I got wrong, was on round-abouts.

Tags: ,

Keep the tolerance

February 9th, 2012 at 8:09 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Police are “seriously considering” a permanent crackdown on speeding drivers by slashing the 10kmh tolerance they now allow.

The 10kmh tolerance allowed on the top speed limit of 100kmh has been cut to 4kmh over public holidays since 2010. The 4kmh tolerance is now being introduced for the rest of this month.

If the Police do go ahead with this, I expect to see some quality research showing how many crashes occur with drivers driving between 104 and 109 km/hr on open roads.

“We are of the opinion that it’s having a positive effect on the road toll. On that basis, we would be considering it very seriously.

“It will really be an evidence-based decision, it’s about an assessment of whether it saves lives.”

I hope it will be an evidence-based decision, rather than just “we are of the opinion”.

A police spokeswoman said crashes during holiday periods since the change was introduced had fallen 46 per cent.

A meaningless stat by itself, in terms of measuring the impact of the tolerance drop. How much has the crash rate fallen outside the holiday periods? Has the fall been greater during the holiday period? Has the decline in crashes been crashes with speed as a factor?

Automobile Association motoring affairs general manager Mike Noon said: “We’re not convinced that 104kmh poses any significant risk on our best roads. 

Thank you Mr AA.

Dog & Lemon Guide editor Clive Matthew-Wilson said the move would unfairly target innocent motorists, while failing to cut the road toll. “It won’t make the slightest difference.”

A high toll over the latest Christmas period showed the lower speeding tolerance did not work, he said. “Heavy policing does not lower the road toll.”

I’m not saying it won’t make any difference. I’m saying the Police have not yet made a case. Mr Matthew-Wilson does have a point that in the most recent holiday period, there was a high toll despite the tolerance drop.

UPDATE: The Police have said the reduction of the tolerance is temporary, and will not become permanent. Good.

Tags:

Drugged Driving

February 7th, 2012 at 9:08 am by David Farrar

Michelle Duff at Stuff reports:

Dreamy, clammy, drooling or overemotional – the tell-tale signs of a drugged driver have led to hundreds of people being netted since the new laws were introduced.

Figures released to The Dominion Post under the Official Information Act show 514 people appeared sufficiently out of it for police to perform a compulsory impairment test on them since the Land Transport Amendment Act was introduced in November 2009.

Of these, 455 struggled to walk nine steps and turn without wandering off the line – stopping, miscounting the number of steps, not understanding the instructions or having to use their arms for balance.

Under the law, a police officer who suspects a driver of being impaired can require the driver to carry out a compulsory impairment test. This measures co-ordination, physiological reactions and markers for drug impairment such as pupil dilation.

As well as requiring them to walk in a straight line, police must check the driver’s behaviour against a list of possible signs of drug use – including slurred or incoherent speech, dilated pupils, and flushed or clammy skin.

They might also be making jerky movements, drooling, scratching, or appear dreamy or anxious.

A driver who fails must undergo a blood test and can then be charged with driving while impaired, which carries similar penalties to those for drink-driving.

Of the 455 drivers who failed the impairment test since 2009, 429 tested positive for one or more drugs.

I was a long time advocate that the Police should check drivers not just for excess alcohol, but for drugs which impair driving ability. It is good to see that the law change has produced results. Driving while stoned is a very very stupid thing to do, as responses are so slowed.

Tags: ,

Could this have been prevented?

February 5th, 2012 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

A judge has told a 42-year-old Nelson man with 41 previous driving convictions that it was only a matter of time before he injured or killed somebody.

Norman Mostyn Teece appeared in Nelson District Court for sentencing yesterday by Judge Tony Zohrab on a charge of dangerous driving causing death, and was sentenced to three years in prison. …

Judge Zohrab said a law change last year meant the maximum sentence he could impose had doubled from five to 10 years.

“It’s hard not to be sympathetic to the situation you find yourself in, but the sympathy is dulled or tempered because of your history.”

Teece had received 41 previous driving convictions in the period between 1986 and 2001, and since 2001 had had his driving licence suspended twice.

“You have a terrible prior history. You have placed members of the public in danger again and again.” Judge Zohrab said.

Judge Zohrab is right that it was only a matter of time before he killed someone. I think he is lucky to have got only three years jail. A case for manslaughter could be made, if you take into account his past history.

This got me thinking, is there any way different laws could have prevented this death, or minimised the chance of its happening.

I’d advocate two changes for such recidivist dangerous drivers.

The first is that after a certain number of offences, you face a lifetime ban from driving. I’m not sure how many offences that would be, but certainly less than 41.

I note even now he has only been suspended for five years, of which around half he will be in prison for anyway.

The second change is around penalties for driving while disqualified. We know certainty of being caught and certainty of sentence are deterrents. I would advocate that any driver who has been permanently disqualified from driving (I would hope we have less than 100 in total) is subject to pro-active checking by Police that they are not driving and that if they are caught driving while permanently disqualified they are automatically jailed with say a minimum three month sentence.

If they refuse to drive safely on the roads, then better they are in jail than they are allowed to carry on until they do kill someone, as Norman Teece did.

Tags: ,

No road code change on April Fools

November 10th, 2011 at 8:06 am by David Farrar

Katie Chapman at Stuff reports:

Concern that people may think new give-way rules were an April Fool’s Day joke led to an eleventh-hour date change – despite plans for a $1.2 million education campaign.

Just hours before Transport Minister Steven Joyce was due to lodge a Cabinet paper outlining the changes to the give-way rule, he questioned the planned April 1 start date, saying people may think it was a joke.

Despite advice that April 1 would be more memorable, the date was changed to March 25.

The rule change includes dropping the give-way-to-the-right rule in favour of giving way to the left.

I have to say I think the Minister called this one right. telling people the give way rules will be changing on April Fools Day would be a risk best avoided.

For us Kiwis, giving way to the right is so ingrained, it will take a while to get used to it. Now all we need is a law change that also allows you to turn left on a red light if it is safe.

Tags:

I didn’t know I was speeding – yeah right

October 13th, 2011 at 8:01 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

A driver caught doing 127kmh in a 50kmh zone at Wellington’s Moa Pt was having trouble working out the speed his newly bought Mercedes Benz was doing, a court has been told.

Mario Giannoutsos, 42, of Otaki was clocked by police doing 77kmh above the speed limit just after midnight on July 30 while driving along Moa Pt Rd. …

Wellington District Court duty solicitor Barbara Hunt said yesterday that Giannoutsos had only recently bought the car and was having trouble with it, including being unable to work out the speed he was going because the lights on the dashboard were not working. He had been driving to check out what was wrong with the car.

Judge Davidson fined him $600. The maximum he could have been fined was $1000.

Somehow I think he knew the speed, with or without lights. That road is notorious for people trying to set speed records on it.

Tags: