'We need to stop trying to show off and start being responsible' on NZ roads

Last updated 13:12 06/01/2016

It's not the state of our highways or drunk drivers causing the biggest problems on our roads, says Charles, it's speeding.

More dead on our roads: What can we do?

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Here in New Zealand we have relatively good roads. Our highways are paved roads and other than the odd pothole are in relatively good condition.

I remember traveling to Cambodia as a teenager, for a mission trip, and they only ever had one good paved highway at the time. The rest of their roads were gravel roads, with heaps of potholes, or have potholes for Africa as some would say.

So we can't blame bad roads for the problems.

We have an alchol issue to tackle, but that is a cultural issue that will take every generation playing their part to help not only reduce drink driving, but also our reliance as a society on alcohol.

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There also are many young drivers on the road, especially since you can theorectically have a licence by the time you are 16-and-a-half years old. I think it is quite well known that the decision-making part of our brains only fully develop by the time we are in our early to mid-twenties.

I think the speeding issue is a cultural issue.

We are given 50km/hr speed limits in most town centres, yet I constantly see people driving 55-60km/hr who never get caught speeding.

What is worse is, when I am driving 48-50km/hr, which is what I should be driving, and I can be tailgated the whole way on a single lane road. Then, if that driver has a chance to pass me, they go past and give me a dirty look, as if to say I was in the wrong.

It is no different on the highways either, in fact sometimes it is worse.

We can't blame the quality of the roads, says Charles. PHOTO: ISTOCK

I pride myself on sticking as closely to the speed limit as possible, so cruising at 98-102km/hr. However, you always find people quickly catching up to you and tailgating you, and at an unsafe distance I may add, even if they can't overtake you just yet.

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Sometimes a line of three or four cars forms behind me (I still am driving at 100km/hr), and the fourth car in line speeds off and overtakes the other three cars all at once. Sometimes with cars closing in from the other direction.

What is worse, is that it isn't necessarily the young or the drunk who are obviously speeding. It is often older/more "mature" adults with children in the car, passing my car and sometimes giving me the dirty "why are you so slow" look.

It's a very irresponsible "I AM IN A RUSH" culture that we have.

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I travelled from Invercargill to Queenstown with a group of others for an event, and once at the event heard the "mature" adults talking and joking about "why were you so slow", or "I was going 110+km/hr and you still beat me here".

How do we expect to tackle this speeding problem if these "mature" and professional working adults are comparing whose fancy car was going faster?

Another problem is the apparent 10 per cent over the limit rule that people spout out, about why they drive at 110km/hr or 55km/hr. When I did my theory test, I never read anywhere about this supposed 10 per cent over the limit rule.

I do understand that all our speedometers are a little different. However, is a 10 per cent difference really needed?

The current 4km/hr over the limit is a little bit more reasonable I think. People do occasionally cruise and end up being around 104-105km/hr when they aren't looking at the speedo, but 10 per cent over the limit encourages people to drive at 110km/hr all the time.

Drivers need to stop showing off and stick to the speed limit, says Charles. PHOTO: FAIRFAX NZ

So how do we solve speeding?

As John Key said, we need to all start taking responsibility for our own speed. We may be a tough people (and we have won three Rugby World Cups to prove it), but we can still die if we are speeding, as can be seen by the death toll over the holiday period.

We are definitely not invincible and as adults, 21 years and older, we need to stop trying to show off and start being responsible.

I know that tourists play a big part in many accidents, but we also need to be sensible and stop driving too fast, especially when there are signs saying it is best to travel at 75km/hr around these corners etc.

In fact, we should make it a hard rule that if the sign suggests 75km/hr then cars should have to travel at that speed around corners, and not 100km/hr just because it is a 100km/hr zone.


Parents need to show their children from young, that speeding isn't the right thing to do.

Parents need to stop showing off to their friends, because their children are watching and listening and will follow their example when they grow up.

We also need to teach our children that they are responsible for their actions, and that their actions not only impact themselves, but also impact the people around them.

It is not going to be easy to solve this problem, because it is a cultural problem. However, if we really are serious about making a change, then we all have to step up to the mark and be counted.

If we start from the top (the oldest), we can slowly influence the younger generations, and hopefully save heartache for many more people in the future.

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