Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: When "common sense" isn't

426 Responses

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  • Lilith __,

    Wow, if only it were compulsory for all road users to be forbidden high horses and compelled to be generous to each other....

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3891 posts Report Reply

  • Felix Marwick, in reply to Moz,

    I get it now. You're referring to your Australian experiences. I'm happy to say the police here (or at least the ones I've dealt with) have been very helpful.

    My score so far, since commuting with a camera for the past seven months, is one driver done for failing to give way (careless driving) and one for careless driving causing injury.

    Admitedly in the 2nd case I had 3 eyewitnesses that all but rendered the video evidence unnecessary.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 200 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Islander,

    An e.g = if you’d had a stroke, you certainly were

    That's a pretty major risk factor, though, and it's hardly something that applies to all drivers.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Islander, in reply to Matthew Poole,

    That’s a pretty major risk factor, though, and it’s hardly something that applies to all drivers.

    True.
    But I’d also point out that quite a few people have *"strokes which are not medically confirmed.” If people arnt having yearly check-ups, these will almost certainly be unrecorded. And any brain-damage also unrecorded.

    *Qualifier: I’ve had a stroke.It was medically confirmed.It wasnt in a part of my brain that affected motor
    components. It does seem to have had an effect on my ability to karanga & singing- I’ve got better!

    (Okay, that's my impression...)

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

  • BenWilson, in reply to Matthew Poole,

    It's worth noting that, like most activities, one of the things that makes you better at driving is doing more and more of it. So ragging out anyone older than 30 on account of the poor standard of their training is a wee bit one-sided. They're likely to have spent tens of thousands more hours at the wheel than you. Contrary to popular belief, most people aren't asleep at the wheel, and they continue to learn and refine their skills for a long time. They also tend to become more risk averse over time.

    The increase in accident rates for the elderly is on account of declining powers, rather than poor training.

    Which is not to say that more training is a bad idea. I wholeheartedly approve of the idea. But I doubt that it will be the panacea that you seem to think, if you even do think that, rather than just having a spleen-vent on older drivers for their outrageous cheek at being born further in the past.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10655 posts Report Reply

  • Keir Leslie,

    There's probably not a right to drive a car but there's definitely a right to freedom of movement and it's not entirely crazy to argue that restrictions on the right to drive a car are therefore only justified to the extent necessary etc. Even if you don't go that far it's certainly worth keeping in mind the extent to which they interact.

    Since Jul 2008 • 1452 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to BenWilson,

    So ragging out anyone older than 30 on account of the poor standard of their training is a wee bit one-sided. They’re likely to have spent tens of thousands more hours at the wheel than you.

    a) I'm older than 30.
    b) I don't care how much time they've spent behind the wheel, I care how much of that extra time shows up in their attitude and behaviour. When they indicate poorly, tailgate, and generally drive in a manner that shows a disdain for the law and their other road users, why should I cut them slack just because they've got more time behind the wheel?

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Keir Leslie,

    There's probably not a right to drive a car

    Lets get into the ontology of it! Wicked! While that's getting sorted out (this may take a few hundred years), my driver's license stands in place of my right to drive. Barring any other excuse to stop me, a police officer can't prevent me from going about my lawful business in a car on the grounds that it hasn't been proven to be a right, which exists. I'm certainly not going to let the philosophy hold me up any more than it already has in my life.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10655 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Keir Leslie,

    it’s not entirely crazy to argue that restrictions on the right to drive a car are therefore only justified to the extent necessary etc

    It may not be entirely crazy, but it does pretend that driving a car is an activity that carries negligible risk to the driver, others in their car, and others who use the roads and the road corridors. Which, given the trigger of this thread, is clearly not the case. We place much greater restrictions on the acquisition and use of firearms by persons for whom they are an essential tool in the furtherance of their earning a living, and everyone has an absolute right to earn a living.

    Clearly I'm not at all sympathetic to arguments that freedom of movement equates to a right to drive. If you don't have a driver's licence you can still walk, or ride a bicycle, or use public transport, or get a ride from someone else; the things we demand of those who are too young to be granted permission to drive.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Waugh, in reply to Maz,

    Having driven and or cycled in Europe, Asia, South America, North America, Australia and NZ I can safely say that standards here are the worst I’ve seen.

    I find this quite amusing. It's amazing how expats all over the world tend to say such similar things about their host country. If the 'here' in your sentence were referring to China, then I've certainly heard near-identical complaints about the standard of driving here in China more than once. I've also had fun with Chinese recently returned from working in oilfields in Sudan complaining about how the Sudanese are so lazy by pointing out that I've heard foreign businesspeople here in China have said exactly the same thing about Chinese workers.

    And all the other comments about NZ driver training and standards of driving being so atrocious. Really, Fred Dagg was right: We don't know how lucky we are. When I was last in NZ (Feb 2010) I had to spend a couple of days in Auckland. Yes, the traffic was heavy, especially on the motorways, but I was impressed by how smoothly it flowed and the signs saying "Merge like a zip" (oh please, somebody come up with a good Chinese translation and start posting it around Beijing's motorway network) and onramp traffic lights that actually controlled the volume of traffic entering the motorway network. It was quite a few years ago that I first heard the complaint that Beijing's traffic police had to cope with 10 - 11 hours of rush hour each day.

    And you know what I didn't see as we drove down State Highway 1 to Wellington or back up to Hamilton and then Auckland? Large numbers of cars driving at waaaaaay over the speed limit. Not saying speeding doesn't happen in NZ, but never in NZ have I felt the shockwave of a another car passing me, a shockwave similar to that you get from a truck in high winds. That's happened to me here. I also didn't see trucks approaching a red light move into the opposite lane, giving a quick blast of the horn, then barrelling straight through without so much as a glance for possible oncoming traffic - I've seen that more than once on rural Chinese roads.

    As for driver training, my brother in law has a perfectly valid drivers licence, but if you ask him to open the boot, bonnet or petrol cap, he'll just look at you blankly. He has no idea where to even begin looking for the appropriate levers. I could go on about his non-existent driving skills. And yet, he is licenced.

    Yeah, NZ has its problems, and I suspect those problems are as much cultural, as in entitlement to drive and attitudes to other road users, as infrastructural. And no, I'm not trying to start some silly expat pissing contest about who has to cope with the worst traffic, but come on people, can we get a bit of perspective here?

    ETA: Forgot to add: Getting your licence from a packet of cornflakes? When I was growing up, that was a snarky way to vent our frustrations at somebody driving badly, and most certainly not considered an accurate or fair description of entire generations of drivers.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 2401 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to BenWilson,

    A driver’s licence is proof that the state has given you permission to use a motor vehicle in the exercise of your right to freedom of movement. The state also reserves the right to, with no notice, revoke that licence for up to 28 days, at the roadside, because you have not followed the laws that restrict the applicability of that permission. That revocation does not, however, terminate your right to freedom of movement.

    ETA: And, of course, the state can revoke that permission for any period of time all the way up to permanently while still not terminating your right to freedom of movement (though you may find that right suspended temporarily if you stray so far from the legal that you are subjected to indefinite loss of licence).

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Matthew Poole,

    When they indicate poorly, tailgate, and generally drive in a manner that shows a disdain for the law and their other road users, why should I cut them slack just because they've got more time behind the wheel?

    Do you have the slightest evidence that these behaviors are more prevalent in older people? My own experience is that the opposite holds, that the most impatient and annoying drivers on the planet are young people, and crash statistics bear that out, as do insurance premiums, despite all the righteous law changes.

    It wasn't a matter of cutting slack. You actually went out of your way to say that older drivers are crap, on a theoretical argument based on changes in driver training and testing. It's not the case, until their faculties start failing, and indeed their greater level of experience may well have masked even that for many years. More training is an excellent idea, but mostly because it will stop young people needing to have crashes to learn the extent of their mortality. Even then, it's only so effective.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10655 posts Report Reply

  • Caleb D'Anvers, in reply to BenWilson,

    Surely a license to drive is weaker than a "right to drive"? Does someone out there have a corresponding duty to allow you to drive? Can you take them to Court if they don't have a fashionable Vehicle of Your Choice lined up at the gate for you any time you want one? If not, then driving probably isn't a "right," strictly speaking.

    London SE16 • Since Mar 2008 • 482 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to BenWilson,

    You actually went out of your way to say that older drivers are crap, on a theoretical argument based on changes in driver training and testing.

    I said that they're under-trained and under-tested, and that's absolutely true all the way through to people who got their licences within about the last five years. I wasn't singling out older drivers, I was singling out all drivers who haven't come through the latest round of changes. There are more older drivers who fall into that category, obviously, but even people in their late 20s haven't necessarily been through much in the way of testing. My brother's 28 and only had to go through the first variation of the exit test to get his full because he was lazy. People down to a cohort currently aged about 27 were able to get their full licence on the basis of time spent as holders of a restricted licence and got their restricted on the basis of a pretty weak test.

    Crash stats don't tell you who's more obnoxious, they just tell you who's driving beyond their capability. I never said, anywhere, that older drivers are hoons. I just said they have bad driving habits because they largely learned from their family and friends and the level of testing they underwent in order to get their licence was minimal so the bad habits could be suppressed for long enough to satisfy an instructor. Part of the reason the tests now are a lot longer is so that bad habits will surface as the driver slips back into complacency from the initial "good behaviour" they were on at the start of the test. There are plenty of comments about that from the debates when the exit test was being introduced.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Matthew Poole,

    A driver’s licence is proof that the state has given you permission to use a motor vehicle in the exercise of your right to freedom of movement.

    Meh. I don't buy that I have a right to freedom of movement in the first place, from which other kinds of movement derive. I don't see the need for such quibbling. The driver's license is quite specifically an expression and a proof of my right to drive certain kinds of vehicle lawfully on public roads. That's what it amounts to practically, it's how it's used. It does not override other laws, it simply means that no one can legally prevent me from driving if they don't have some other reason to detain me.

    In fact, it's quite possible to have the right to drive without having freedom of movement. You can have a driver's license whilst in a prison cell. I met a fellow recently who owns the gym down the end of my street, who wears an ankle bracelet that triggers an alert if he is not either at his home or his place of work, or on the road between those two. His freedom of movement is severely curtailed, but his right to drive is not.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10655 posts Report Reply

  • Keir Leslie,

    Meh. I don’t buy that I have a right to freedom of movement in the first place

    s 18 (1) of the Bill of Rights Act does provide for one though.

    Since Jul 2008 • 1452 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Matthew Poole,

    Crash stats don't tell you who's more obnoxious, they just tell you who's driving beyond their capability.

    Crashing into people is at the upper end of the obnoxious scale, IMHO.

    I just said they have bad driving habits because they largely learned from their family and friends and the level of testing they underwent in order to get their licence was minimal so the bad habits could be suppressed for long enough to satisfy an instructor.

    And you completely failed to acknowledge experience as the slightest factor in driver ability.

    I was singling out all drivers who haven't come through the latest round of changes.

    Yes, most of the driving population. You're implying there's some kind of massive step change in the overall quality of their driving compared to the rank newbies who are cranking out of the testing regime now. Do you have any evidence of this? I understand the argument, I counter that experience is also a factor, and where are we? Left with the accident stats, which are massively against the majority of people who have but recently gained their licenses.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10655 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Keir Leslie,

    s 18 (1) of the Bill of Rights Act does provide for one though

    I don't have to show a policeman that at a checkpoint. Just my license.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10655 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to Matthew Poole,

    Matthew, the public-service ads tell us that young drivers who have just graduated to their restricted licence are in the most danger. These are the people who have just passed all their tests.
    If you've got something against older drivers, please back it up with something other than anecdata, hearsay and wild speculation.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3891 posts Report Reply

  • Keir Leslie, in reply to BenWilson,

    But that doesn't matter, it's a right that exists and the policeman's bound to respect, and Parliament's bound to acknowledge.

    Since Jul 2008 • 1452 posts Report Reply

  • James Littlewood*,

    Coming in a bit late to this. So, pologies if already covered.

    I believe there is evidence to suggest that an accident without a helmet is more likely to cause brain pain. But also, that the wearing of a helmet is associated with higher incidence of an accident.

    Kinda like home birth vs. hostible. In the former, you're high and dry if something goes wrong. But in the latter, things are more likely to go wrong.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2008 • 410 posts Report Reply

  • James Littlewood*,

    So when my family and I do the Hendo bike trail to the Corbans Arts Centre, no helmets. It's a flat-to-gently undulating concrete path through green fields and scultpures. And my oldest kid can barely ride as it is. Falls off all the time, and always at <5km/h. Scabby knees, like any respectable 8 year old.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2008 • 410 posts Report Reply

  • James Littlewood*,

    In comparison to me, at an older age.

    To sound like your great uncle who smoked all his life and died of toe-nail cancer at the age of 103, I recall I rode a bike nearly every day 5 miles each way to high school and back, overtaking cars down Kepa Rd. Helmet? Never heard of it. Still here, ain't I?

    Dumb luck.

    Besides, the bike commute from Titirangi to Grey Lynn along Great North Rd could start soon and factor some significantly higher risk elements.

    What's the more dangerous bike: peddle or motor?

    Auckland • Since Mar 2008 • 410 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Keir Leslie,

    But that doesn't matter, it's a right that exists and the policeman's bound to respect, and Parliament's bound to acknowledge.

    If I don't have a license, then my freedom of movement by driving a vehicle will be immediately curtailed. Parliament will back them up.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10655 posts Report Reply

  • Maz, in reply to Chris Waugh,

    With all due respect, that Fred Dagg thing is the kind of sentimental claptrap that keeps anything from ever being done, from ever changing for the better.
    It also seems to be the standard response to anyone who criticizes anything Kiwi.
    There's a lot of things that bug me about Denmark (no "please", no "you're welcome"), and I don't live there anymore, but driving and cycling there is a treat. And yes, I go there and to other European countries every other year or so. But they don't get defensive or tell you to f off to wherever you came from.
    NZ is a First World country, and pride ourselves on it, and many things we do better than others. But that shouldn't keep us from having a good, hard look at what we could do better - especially things as glaringly obvious as our traffic issues.
    That Wellington, for instance, with a population of less than 300000 should have gridlock every morning and evening is pretty ridiculous.

    Re China, that may be everybody's nightmare, but I haven't been so can't comment.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2010 • 30 posts Report Reply

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