Why I Think People Should Have to Update Their Driving License every 5 Years

There are some changes to the Road Code coming up on the 25th of March and it scares me to think of how many people can’t or don’t obey the road code as it stands without adding to the confusion. Here’s my experience of driving to work this morning in Auckland this morning, yes this is a soap box blog today, but it may have a correlation with why panelbeaters are doing a roaring trade right now.

I was waiting to go straight through a roundabout. Two cars indicated right turns about 20 metres apart, so I waited to let them through. Neither car turned, they both went straight ahead. They should have been indicating left turns to show they were exiting the roundabout.

I got to the motorway onramp which was managed by the traffic lights designed to keep the flow going on the motorway itself. A guy in a Suzuki Swift in front of me had a gap of about 10 metres in front of him and kept stopping. I changed lanes and yes, the tell tale sign was correct, he was busy texting on his phone and occassionally looked up to see if anyone had moved. When he got to his turn of the green light, he totally missed it and had to wait for another cycle.

But wait folks there’s more, 2 more cars at the same set of lights missed their greens as well, didn’t see them at all. Of course that was the signal for people at the next set of red lights to ignore them when they got their turn, obviously justifying their action because if the idiots who couldn’t stay off their phones were paying attention, they would have already been on their way.

So I’m off the motorway and onto the home straight where 2 lanes merge into one. We are all merging politely when all of a sudden a van comes out of nowhere and brakes hard just in time to miss my car and the car that was merging to my side. I swear the blonde who was driving must have a double jointed neck or a really long one like Anna in the TV series V because as she breaked her head popped up from above her glove box on the passenger side. Maybe she had to accelerate because she couldn’t find something she was looking for, but it would have been a nasty injury if she had waited a second longer to pop her head up to windscreen level. I haven’t mentioned people talking on their phones, eating breakfast and other things they do in commuter traffic because it see this is now normal acceptable behaviou, but this does illustrate to me why people should re sit their licenses so they are aware of what their legal responsiobilities are and we can reduce the number of needless daily accidents and incidents. Just my opinion of course.


Don’t Run the Red!

I can’t believe the number of people who run red lights in Auckland. On Friday I thought I might keep a list for a week of all the people I witness driving through red lights at intersections. I had to give up because there were way too many. In 1 1/2 business days plus a weekend I have watched more than 30 cars drive through red lights, one of which was a young woman (I’m being polite) who only just missed plowing into me. I could just about count the freckles on her face and see the colour of her eyes as she looked at me as she drove past.

There is a horrendous TV advertisement showing a dark Stephen Kingtype carny guy spinning a Lotto style Winning Wheel at an intersection and a shot of a car driving straight through the driver door of another car at an intersection as the wheel stops on ‘Death’. Several people have commented on how scary the advertisement is, but it doesn’t seem to be stopping people from doing this. Just 5 minutes ago on my way back to the office, I stopped at an orange light and about 4 seconds after I stopped an Armourguard van sped past me on the outside lane just missing traffic on their way through a red light. 2 seconds later and it would have been a major accident involving at least 3 cars who wouldn’t have had a hope of seeing him. I was so shocked I forgot to get his registration number.

On the 2nd of January this year (a public holiday when you wouldn’t expect city traffic to be in a hurry) in one intersection in Auckland City 418 vehicles ran the red light! I’m sure Tristram Ave and the Constellation Off Ramp on the Northern Motorway would rival that. This morning while waiting to get through that intersection 2 lots of 4 cars blocked the main highway by driving into the intersection when there was nowehere for their cars to go.

Another report said that in a 20 day trial in Auckland of 10 intersections, there were 341,000 incidents of red light running. It went on to say that over 5 years from 2000 to 2005 in Auckland city there were 399 crashes due to people running red lights! How can so many people be so thick. It doesn’t matter how you rationalise it, it is like playing Russian Roulette. People may be in a hurry, late for an appointment, busy texting and don’t look at the signal in time, personally I don’t care what the reason is, there is none that is acceptable yet people do it in their thousands, every day.

This isn’t new and it isn’t limited to Auckland as some would like to think, but given that probably half of the nations cars are in Auckland, there will be more. But in a study in Dunedin in 2004, a 3rd of crashes at traffic light controlled intersections involved people driving through red lights.

There are lots of studies around the world on this subject by transport authorities, by councils, by insurance organisations including those that support red light cameras and those against. The thing is, if people used common sense, this situation wouldn’t occur in the first place.

The chances are that somewhere in Auckland today, someone will be seriously hurt or injured because someone drive through a red light. The same will happen tomorrow. How would you feel if the victim was your child, your mum or your dad? How would you feel facing the victim’s family in court and how would you feel for the rest of your life if you were the driver who was in a bit of a hurry?

There is no excuse, no reason, it can have terrible consequences and yet thousands of people within 10km of where I sit writing this will be doing it in the next 2 hours! Stop and think people. The next victim could be someone you know and love.