Today’ s blog is an update to an earlier blog published on December 24th about a comment left on our Welcome page, the author asked for it to be moved to a more suitable location.
An Aussie on holidays in NZ – shocked by the reality.
“First commendations to this site for telling the truth about NZ.
Since coming to NZ on holiday about a week and a half ago, I must say I am shocked by things I’ve found.
Since driving around for about 10 days, I’ve been abused about 5 times, by angry NZ drivers, this is while driving around hills and cliffs, in the rain. Given that in Australia I am lucky to be honked at every five years either (a) my driving has suddenly deteriorated in NZ or (b) New Zealanders are terrible drivers. I’ve going with the second option.
The sheer aggressiveness of the drivers here has to be seen to be believed. They seem to think that its your duty to throw yourself off a cliff so they can get there 2 minutes early.
I have also been amazed at how unhelpful people are to tourists, and how utterly unwilling/unknowing they are about opening times and giving simple help.
Within our first hour of driving into Auckland, we were honked at twice, and sworn at by a man with no teeth (a common occurrence here) for parking in the ‘wrong’ spot.
The prices are very high, and there are a lot of rip offs. Nobody seems to do dental.
I can’t believe how utterly aggressive and unhelpful to tourists NZ people are. Thank god we dont live here permanently, and we’ve got our return flight booked. Tourists, you have been warned. Dont get pulled in by the saturation advertising in Australia.”
As if on cue, journalist Toby Manhire has written an article for the NZ Herald today in which he said
— nzherald (@nzherald) December 27, 2012
The article was about the appalling driving conditions in New Zealand and was aimed at visitors to the country. It is headed Welcome to NZ, our roads will drive you insane.
“Visitors to our fair land will soon discover Kiwis pretty much take a she’ll-be-right approach to the traffic rules.”
Maybe that is something to do with most Kiwis learning to drive before they could see over the bonnet?
“We’re not, you know, 100 per cent purist when it comes to the rules of the road. Or, maybe it’s better put this way: there is an extra, unpublished chapter in the New Zealand road code, passed down from generation to generation like a beloved heirloom or sixth toe.
To help you gently blend in, here are 10 unspoken rules of the road.”
Manhire goes on to list them, including
1. Other drivers
As you steer the bends and straights of New Zealand, you will see this sign: “Think of other drivers”. Owing to budget cuts, its final three words didn’t get printed. These are: “as the enemy”.
The enemy also includes pedestrians, possums, cyclists.
2. The enemy (continued)
This is important. Only from the driver’s seat can The Enemy truly be seen. Within that furious capsule, a mysterious gas fills the air, turning otherwise rational individuals into bile-sweating maniacs. A similar effect can be observed in overeager lovers of sport, or in many who post anonymous comments on websites.
Remove them from that bubble, hose them down, and they are mostly perfectly reasonable people. The occasional road-rage inflammation excepted, drivers remember being civilised when they close the car door from the outside.
3. Following distances
In wide-open-spaced New Zealand, we don’t do invasions of personal space. Except on the roads, where, in town and country alike, it’s all strangely intimate.
Why? Hard to fathom. Plainly, it’s bloody dangerous, both in boosting the chances of a rear-end smash, and in terrifying the tail-gated driver into doing something stupid like lurching into a ditch (no, I haven’t, but nearly). What’s more, such proximity makes it considerably more difficult for the pursuing driver to overtake, limiting the sightline and resulting in stomach-churning swerves. And all this white-knuckle accelerator-brake stuff must really ramp up the fuel bill. More of that sweetly charming irrationality? Probably. Some speak, mind you, of the ancient sport of invisible tow-ropes. Of a primal, feral sexual urge. And of a nostalgic project to simulate the carriage formation of train travel in a country where the railways are for antique-lovers only…” Read on here
He finishes off with the admission that NZ tops the world stats for road deaths among the developed countries
10. We’re bad drivers
It’s painful to admit, but on almost every measure, by population, by distance travelled, serious injuries and deaths on New Zealand roads rank among the highest of developed countries. We’re getting better.
But, still. Welcome. Sorry. Watch for crossing penguins. And Hobbits. Happy New Year.
Perhaps if there was a little less fantasy and a little more reality NZ would be a safer place for all.
Our regular readers will know that we often write about New Zealand’s appalling road death toll and of the people who are killed on the roads, especially tourists and other visitors.
A while ago we blogged about the tragic death of Stephan Stoermer, one of many cyclists killed every year in New Zealand. Stephan, like many others, had cycled safely in many different countries without incident but met his death in New Zealand.
Stephan Stoermer had been on a cycling world tour since 2006, he had been safely winding his way through 26 countries in Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Australia since early 2006 before arriving in New Zealand. He died a week before his tour was scheduled to end when he was hit by a logging truck near Te Puke in the Bay of Plenty on March 12, 2009
At the sentencing of the man who drove the logging truck that killed Stephan we were given an indication of the factors which came together on that fateful day. Our feeling is that these go a long way toward explaining why New Zealand’s roads are so hazardous, unfortunately the light sentence given to the truck driver is not going to act as enough of a deterrent to other drivers (or trucking companies) to make any difference at all to the road toll, life comes cheap in New Zealand.
The company Mr Robert worked for appears to not to have been prosecuted or censured in any way for his driving practices whilst in their employ.
Here’s what the Bay of Plenty Times said about the trial
A driver who fell asleep at the wheel of his heavily laden logging truck shortly before killing a German cyclist in a horror crash near Te Puke has been jailed for two years and three months. Stephan Stoermer, 38, of Frankfurt, was on the last leg of a 26-country cycling journey when he was hit and killed by Troy Roberts’ truck and trailer near Te Matai Rd on State Highway Two on March 12 last year.
In May Roberts, 35, appeared in Tauranga District Court and pleaded guilty to a charge of reckless driving causing death, one of falsifying his log book and several breaches of Land Transport Act regulations, relating to exceeding his restricted driving hours. Police inquiries revealed Roberts had exceeded his restricted driving hours and did not have enough rest breaks in the days leading up to the crash.
On the day of the crash he had driven for seven hours and 15 minutes before stopping, although he was required to have a 30-minute break after five hours. He had also falsely entered his start time as 4am instead of 2.30am. About 5.45pm on March 12, Roberts had begun to fall asleep as he drove along SH2 on his way to the Port of Tauranga, where he had intended to unload his logs before travelling home to Rotorua. He had already worked 14 hours and 48 minutes.
Near the Te Matai Rd turnoff, Roberts’ vehicle hit Mr Stoermer, who had also been heading to Tauranga, at a speed of 80-85km/h. Mr Stoermer and his bike had been catapulted into a ditch. Despite the efforts of two nurses and a doctor, he had died at the scene.
Roberts admitted his log book was not in order. He claimed he saw the cyclist and moved to pass him, but heard a bang and knew he’d hit him instead. Roberts said he believed Mr Stoermer may have suddenly veered on to the road in front of him, but a police crash investigation cleared Mr Stoermer of contributing to the crash.
As a commercial truck driver employed by Kahurangi Logging of Murupara, Roberts’ driving hours were restricted by law and the maximum permitted, including two 30-minute rests, was 14 hours a day. Drivers are required to have a minimum of 10 hours’ rest between working days. Between January 12 and the day of the crash, Roberts breached those regulations 13 times.
In Tauranga District Court yesterday, Roberts’ lawyer Rebekah Webby argued for a sentence of home detention. She said Roberts was extremely remorseful and continued to struggle to come to terms with Mr Stoermer’s death. The incident had impacted on him and his family.
Roberts, who lost his job as a result of the incident, had whanau ties to the logging company and had felt under pressure to drive to meet their commitments.
Judge Paul Geoghegan said the summary of facts made tragic reading. On the day of the crash, Roberts had been a “ticking time bomb” and the fact that he had been driving a fully laden logging truck and trailer made his offence more serious. While he was prepared to take into account a $400 offer of reparation by Roberts, the judge said he was not going to order reparation, as it was likely to open the wounds for Mr Stoermer’s family rather than close them. He disqualified Roberts from driving for two years.”
By way of a comparison the truck driver who killed another German cyclist, Mia Pusch, had his licence suspended for a year and was ordered to pay just $5,000 in reparation.
Another German cyclist died on 6 August 2009 in a hit an run at Leeston, 45 km south west of Christchurch. 34 year old Jens Richardon had been living in NZ for a few years. He must have been quite familiar with the peculiarities of the roads and the local driving habits. His body was eventually discovered by a passing motorist at 7.30pm and police located the offender’s car, a dark blue BMW 3251, 20km away.
The motorist responsible for Jens’ death was seen slumped over a bar shortly before the crash. Phillip Kirkwood Hamilton, 40, of Southbridge, pleaded guilty on 6 November 2009 to driving under the influence of alcohol causing death and failing to stop for an injury accident. He had drunk around 10 pints of beer at a bar in Rolleston from around 2.30pm that day. He told police he knew he had hit a cyclist but panicked because he had been drinking. The judge took pity on him a gave him a sentence of home detention.
But soft sentences are the norm in crashes involving cyclists.
Drunk driver, 71 year old Alison Downer, bagged a lenient two year sentence for her 4th conviction after she hit and killed Frank van Kampen as he was cycling along State Highway 1 in Te Horo on September 18 2009. Mr van Kampen’s partner wept through the hearing at Palmerston North District Court and said that she was disgusted by the sentence. Can you believe that Downer’s defence lawyer was alleged to have told the judge that “this was not the worst type of offending because there was only one victim.”
And in the ‘Tamaki Drive Carnage’ a female student lost her licence for 6 months and was ordered to pay $1,000 to each of her victims after she ploughed into a pack of cyclists travelling along Tamaki Drive, Auckland. The cyclists, one of whom suffered long term brain injuries and may never be able to work again, said that the sentence was far too lenient.
North Shore doctor Graham Robinson was struck and killed whilst cycling outside of Helensville. The driver of a white Toyota Hillux sped off after hitting him and police have yet to track him down, despite having an excellent description of the vehicle.
12 July 2010
Two cyclists were abused and assaulted by two women whilst cycling on a training ride on the Taieri on Saturday:
…Their story began when they heard a car approaching about 1pm. Its horn was tooted and someone leaned out of the passenger door and abused them for riding two abreast, he said.
“It came up pretty quickly and tried to collect us with the front door,” Mr Edgar, a University of Otago commerce student, said.
The car passed them and slammed on its brakes, forcing Mr Melrose into gravel on the wrong side of the road.
Mr Logan was caught behind the open car door, when a woman got out and began slapping and punching him. She then threw a bottle at him, he said.
“The woman was going nuts. They dragged my bike into the front passenger seat and took off dragging the bike…”
Police knew the women involved and were going to ‘have a word’ with them. We’ll be keeping an eye out to see if the women are charged or let off.
In May we wrote about four-year-old Nayan Woods. He was out walking with his six-year-old brother Jacob and his mother Emma on Linwood Ave, Christchurch (the city is the hoon capital of NZ) one evening when they were all hit by a car that had ‘lost control’ on a long, straight stretch of road. See posts “Hoon car kills kid” and ‘Hoon car’ driver was only 17.
Nayan’s brother Jacob, and mother Emma, were seriously injured. Sadly, little Nayan died of his injuries shortly afterward.
The driver was alleged to have been seen drifting before the collision in an area that is well known for its boy racer activity. At the time police stated that they were going to press against the 17 year old driver. The incident attracted a lot of public attention and highlighted both Christchurch’s boy racer problem and the wider problem of dangerous driving practices across the whole of New Zealand. See Boy racers your time is up a discussion on a Kiwi internet forum.
Police today confirmed that charges have been made against the driver, thought to be Ash Austin, and that he has been charged with dangerous driving causing death and dangerous driving causing injury. He’s also charged with operating a modified vehicle that was not certified and operating a vehicle on a road when it was liable to cause injury to any person.
The teenager will appear in the Christchurch District Court July 28.
If we recall correctly, previous reports said that the car was registered to the youth’s parents, who were abroad on holiday at the time of the collision.
Surely, those parents should be made to take some responsibility for allowing their son to drive an illegally modified car that was registered in their name? What on earth were they thinking about letting a kid that age drive a souped-up street racer, did they insure it for him too? Or, could it be that he was driving the car without their consent?
Our thoughts are with Nayan’s family today and for the difficult months ahead leading up to the trial.
For an update to this story please see ‘Hoon car’ driver was only 17“
Many of our regular readers already know that New Zealand has world’s second highest road death and injury rates, twice that of countries like the UK. Much of the tragic loss of life and injuries can be attributed to two major factors – poor roads and bad driving, especially by ‘hoons’ or ‘boy racers’ and people under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
In the 12 months to 21 May 2010 126 people aged 24 and under have been killed on NZ roads.
For many years kids as young as 15 have been allowed to drive whatever they can get their hands on in NZ, including high performance cars and there is no legal requirement for them to hold so as much as third party insurance, often with tragic consequences. It may come as a shock to realise that this sort of thing happens in a country that is allegedly ‘such a great place to raise kids.’
Four-year-old Nayan Woods was walking with his six-year-old brother Jacob and his mother Emma on Linwood Ave, Christchurch (the city is the hoon capital of NZ) when they were hit by a car that lost control in wet conditions, Nayan died of his injuries shortly after 5pm last night, his mother asked that his photo be shown in any media coverage. The driver had been seen drifting before the collision in an area that is well known for its boy racer activity. Police have confirmed that they will press charges against the driver:
“The car slid from side to side on the road before climbing the footpath and hitting the children. One News described the driver as a boy racer doing drifts.
The six-year-old boy is in serious but stable condition at Christchurch Hospital.
Police were talking to the 18-year-old male driver.”
The car was a 1999 Suburu Silvia, registered to Ash Austin’s parents.
Later reports stated:
Detective Sergeant John Gallagher said alcohol did not appear to be a factor but “the manner of his driving is definitely an issue”.
Linwood Avenue is a ‘race track’ of a road, the maps below show its position relative to other crash locations:
A report in the Herald added
“Linwood Ave is a long stretch of road with multiple lanes, and residents said it was often used as a racetrack by boy racers. The road was wet yesterday after rain during the day.”
Our heartfelt condolences go out to the family of the deceased child, and to his brother who was injured in the collision.
This tragic loss of a child’s life and the injuries of another, may prove to be the last straw for the residents of Christchurch, who have endured a plague of hoons in and around the city for many years, police seem powerless to control the situation and there are bound to be calls to deal with the problem before any more innocent lives are lost.
It has understandably caused an outrage in the community, reflected in comments left in multiple threads on the Trademe boards, this is part of one of them:
-”After today why would we want any car that’s a boy racer car on our roads.”
-”a small child was killed tonite by an out of control young male driver in chch”
-”Whatever, Judges are complete PUSSYS when it comes to sensible sentencing. Maybe if one our them had their kids killed by a boyracer we may see some common sense sentencing.”
-”Just heard the news re 1 child killed and another seriously injured when a boy racer car went out of control in Christchurch”
-”I saw the news headline but not the rest. Oh the poor family – crush him AND the car.”
-”Enough is enough!!!!!!!”-”Agree time is up. They have had their warning and the softly softly approach. . Bring out the crusher and take the toys away. The ones that are playing by the rules you should be on the case of those indiots out there that have no respect for anyone.”
-”This was one driver, driving a boy racer style car (no eveidence he *is* a boy racer) and he must stand up and take responsiblity for his actions whether he was out of control on purpose or he just made a mistake – as everyone does. And to be fair, “ma and pa average” have more accidents every day (but that is not newsworthy) than Boy Racers ever have in month (as per police comment)”
-”you dont often see ma and pa average kill girls while speeding down fendalton road, or kill pedestrians while racing down Fitsgerald ave or kill innocent drivers while drag racing on ferry road. Do I need to continue? Accidents happen but deaths caused through sheer stupidity behind the wheel of a car should carry a murder charge. Fact is all the above examples were drivers between 18 and 25 in boy racer cars. Downplay it as much as you like but here in ChCh they are a problem and it is time they got sorted out once and for all.”
-”You don’t see it because the media get more of a response when a “boy racer” is involved. So they make more effort to give it a higher public profile. I lived in chch for a long time. Don’t tell me about the problem you have. It’s not half as bad as you would like to believe. I would have called myself more of a boy racer in my 2 door ford laser than half the kids rolling around that town at night. Majority of those kids just do laps because they have nothing better to do. Yes, there are some that are reckless but you will find them in every city. Christchurch happens to have a good circuit for it too, long, wide open streets, unlike somewhere such as wellington. And there are more houses living next to those roads, which means more people notice the sound of boy racers.
If wellington had the same type of streets, you would notice the boy racers more often and no doubt more accidents.”
-”I agree that it’s not just boy racers and If you’re a boy racer and a responsible one then I don’t have any issue with you. But with young people, fast powerful cars, peer pressure, maybe liquor and bravado combinne to give a rather leathal mixture.”
-”Look. Once someone has killed in a car, they KNOW not to be reckless again. The sentencing is nothing but more punishment. They will be tormented by what they have done. And don’t give me that ” Well they should be tormented and punished more blah blah blah” bullshit. The trick is to get through to them before they do it. It’s not the car that’s the problem, it’s the mindset.”
-”from the news report: A young eye-witness told The Press he saw a car “screeching” around a corner before hitting the group. Car tyres only screech when they’ve lost traction mainly due to excessive speed. My friend’s 20 year old son had an accident on his motorbike last week, doing 50km around a greasy tight bend, lost control, skidded along the road for 5 metres with the bike on top of one leg. Thankfully he hit no-one and nothing. He said it was his fault for driving too fast for the wet conditions and will take that corner at 30km from now on. Now THAT is the right (grown up) attitude.”-”Last week there was a auction that got banned promoting Boy racers. Most of the ppls that came onto the thread supported Br’s. I really hope you are reading this thread tonight. It was a matter on time before things like this happen. That poor kid didnt deserve to die, When are the Rb’s going to learn. How many more kids have to die?”
-”Over and over again these young clowns are bringing misery and heartbreak to others and their own families because of this entrenched “must go fast” culture they have all subscribed to. This reckless disregard for the saftey of others coupled with that dip shit attitude of being ten foot tall and bullet proof. Adding to that is the fact that these young idiots have easy access to high performance vehicles which do require a reasonable amount of skill and experience to operate.”
-”in another thread someone says they have seen that car doing skids in the neighbourhood. You only have to look at the damage in the photos to see this guy was out of control and kids on the TV news said he came sliding down the road!I hope you will visit your mate when he is in prison – he will need your support. An 18 year old + high powered turbo rear wheel drive + wet road = recipe for disaster.” more…
In Feb 2009 in an attempt to rid the city of this problem, police took 67 boy racers off the streets of the city, in 2007 police prosecuted 500 people after a sting targeting boy racers in the area. However, these efforts seem to be futile if the comments left on the Trademe threads are anything to go by. more
Isn’t it time that long, straight stretches of road like this in Christchurch were fitted with speed reduction measures, isn’t it time that compulsory age weighted insurance was made mandatory in NZ.
Who wants to live in a city, or a country, that’s little more than a race track?
The day after police minister Judith Collins called police joy rides on Target Road Primary school’s playing fields a “bit of fun” and said she wasn’t concerned by it (See “Collins backs police joyrides at school gala“) a police car has been involved in a multi-vehicle crash in Albany, North Shore.
North Shore is the same borough that Target Road School is in. At least one person has been killed and another is in hospital. One report said:
“The collision happened as a police car was passing through the intersection, which has been left scattered with glass and debris.Vehicles involved include a courier van and a jeep.
Prime News reporter Greta Lawson said the police car had its siren on at the time of the crash. “It was a male police officer driving with a female police officer in the passenger seat. And it was not a pursuit - the police here have told us that they were on their way to a different job.”
One of five vehicles involved was on its roof and another was a police car, a witness told Radio New Zealand.”
View Google Map, the junction was close to Pinehurst School
Our thoughts are with the family of the deceased person and the other people injured in the incident.
One eye witness gave a calm and frank account of the crash to a Herald reporter – watch the video HERE. She said she saw the cop car coming the opposite direction with its lights on at a very high speed and hit the black truck, the truck then came down on another car, the cop car then hit another two cars, hit her and travelled another 50/60 metres down the road, fortunately she was unharmed though shaken. Her account seems very different to the official press release issued to Voxy earlier in the day.
The Voxy release did say that an elderly male motorist died in the incident. We’d like to offer our deepest sympathies to his family.
734 Police cars crashed in the last year
Figures obtained by the Dominion Post under the Freedom of Information Act revealed that:
“734 police cars have crashed in the past year, only 61 crashed while pursuing speeding vehicles.
Officers involved in car crashes, which included scrapes and dings, were usually dealt with through infringement notices, although court action was brought in serious cases.
In 2008, Auckland Constable Aaron Holmes was convicted of aggravated careless use of a motor vehicle causing injury after an accident outside a primary school* in 2007. He crashed into a street lamp, which fell on the head of a teenager and left him in a coma. Holmes was travelling 80kmh in a 50kmh zone for no good reason.
Four officers in the past five years faced serious criminal convictions such as manslaughter.”
*Owairaka Primary on Richardson Road.
The death toll on New Zealand’s roads so far this year was at 38 yesterday, already higher than January and February combined last year.
For background see yesterday’s post “Police cars “joyriding” on school playing fields”
Today’s posts – click here