Why were there so many accidents in New Zealand last week?


This month to date there have been around 32 road deaths in New Zealand compared to 15 at the same time last year. The crazy thing is that the weather has been awesome. Unlike right now as I write this blog, and it is blowing a gale with a little precipitation, it has been warm, dry and perfect driving weather.

Last week I drove to Hamilton during the day on business. I passed 4 major accidents over a period of 3 hours and saw lines of congestion that averaged 2-3km of stationery traffic during a normally quiet time of day.

If you are reading this in the US, you might consider 32 road deaths as a pittance, but consider for a moment that there are less people in the whole of New Zealand than there are in many US cities. Most cars are relatvely new and feature power stearing and at the least anti-skid break technology, so there is no reason for multiple car collissions in these nice weather conditions. Our maximum legal speeds on our freeways is a mere 100 kmph and most people drive close to that.

I haven’t seen any statistics yet, but I am sure that the coroners will back up my theory. I suspect that a large number of people were in the process of text messaging and not paying attention to the road and other cars. Every time I drive I see literally dozens of people with one hand and eye on the road and the other on their phone. It’s a national disease. There is discusison about devices such as car navigation being a dangerous driver distraction, but as a seasoned user, I rarely look at my device when I am driving, I listen to the instructions. SMS is much more dangerous and distracting.

I don’t know what the usage statistics for SMS are in NZ, but with accounts allowing 2,000 free messages a month and services such as the ability for consumers to send a message to up to 15 recipients at a time, the numbers are mind boggling.

So my theory as to why so many people crashed and some of the 32 people who needlessly lost their lives on our road so far this month, is that they were sending or receiving text / SMS messages.

Seems funny now to think of the coroner in London in 1890 something who said that never again must any person die from a motor vehicle accident (that was when the guy walking in front of the car with the safety flag was killed by the very car he was protecting pedestrians from).

Surely no message is worth dieing for?

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2 thoughts on “Why were there so many accidents in New Zealand last week?

  1. Thanks for your comment, I wish you success with your venture. I’m also closely watching the developments of ADAS in Europe. It will be interesting to see if their new initiatives save lives.

  2. Unlike all the pseudo research claiming that the conversation causes the distraction and not holding the phone, the facts are the two topics are different and each has their own drawback and effects, with hand held being worst for distraction and for effecting driver ability to respond to emergencies.

    I agree that cell phone use while driving is an epidemic sweeping the globe. For each car on the road, (roughly 650 Millions world wide), there’s at least 4 Cell phones and the possibility of a driver having a cell phone is 4 to 1. Unfortunately, there are no business models to address this problem, so existing automotive and telecom business models continue to clash on the road.

    When banning Cell phone, legislators put their constituents at a disadvantage to others where legislators did not enact similar laws. When it comes to teenagers, I want mine to stay in touch. What we need is middle ground that’s based on safety.

    This is where innovative thinking can come in to solve the problem by re-engineering our life behind the wheel while including teenagers as well as elderly into the solution. This Re-engineering should create order in the vehicle and give priority to driving tasks over other activities, but still enable other activities while helping keep/or even assuring Eyes on the Road and Hands on the Wheel.
    We have developed, proved and globally patented a system that balances the entire driving experience with emphasis on safety, but still allowing drivers to use communication technologies while driving. Our system has the following key features:

    1- Hands are monitored to be on the steering wheel, this enables configuration to enable or disable devices when hands status is not compliant with safety.

    2- The driver controls all accessories, including cell phones from “thumb gesture” on the steering wheel.

    3- Incoming communications are silenced when Drivers are passing, merging, changing lanes, turn signal engaged, etc.(So as not to surprise the driver).

    4- Any information, wether from a caller ID or navigation direction is given verbally to the driver so there’s no need to look at a screen

    5- System is calibrated to driver’s skills and experience so a teen aged driver is given certain allowances and elderly drivers are provided more assistant.

    6- System is Geographically aware based on Navigation data of curves, lights, stop signs and other legal boundries and can warn driverns to slow down or modify behavior when distracted

    7- The system can fits into a cell phone, and connects to the car network “CAN” physically or wirelessly and communicates with the steering thumb sensor in the same manner.

    8- The system also detects signs of DUI from thre driver handling the steering wheel, heart, sweat, temp, gripping strength and steering corrections, and then reports the driver to police, activate the emergency lights and limit speed of the vehicle.

    We need to stay connected to stay competitive, but we need to do it safety. What we need is to educate our legislative bodies to require a device like ours on every vehicle. Automotive and Telecom companies have been toying with speech recognitions for over two decades now, but the automotive environment is too harsh to allow a desktop environment to succeed.
    We are looking for capital to produce an aftermarket version. 88% of people that see our demo say they’ll buy such a device while 87% think of it as the safest thing as compared to what’s out there. Please contact us on http://www.actplace.net .
    Thank you: Mouhamad A. Naboulsi, president Applied Computer Technologies, Inc.
    http://www.actplace.net

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