Editorial: Patience the only way

GRANT SHIMMIN
Last updated 05:00 15/01/2014

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OPINION: We've all been there, haven't we?

At least those of us who drive, or have driven, which is most adults in our community.

You're on the road, on an extended trip or even a relatively short trip, with limited time, when you find yourself behind a big rig. It's not an uncommon scenario in South Canterbury and surrounds.

So you sit behind it, waiting patiently for a passing lane, which may be several kilometres away, but when that welcome extra lane arrives, and you're itching to put your foot down and get ahead of the juggernaut in question, you find the car in front of you is slow in getting past, meaning you can't get through before the road narrows again.

Or perhaps you even find - I know I have more than once - that ahead of the rig that had blocked your view of the highway is another one, moving more slowly, and you have to watch in mounting frustration as rig slow passes rig slower, using up all the passing lane space available to effect the manoeuvre, and keeping you behind both ponderous metal mammoths.

In your mind's eye, you can see your journey getting longer. You may also see yourself arriving late for an important appointment or rendezvous, but there's precious little you can do.

Sound familiar? I'm sure it does to many readers.

So what do you do? Of course, the smart move is to grit your teeth and wait for a safe overtaking opportunity, but it's no surprise that such situations do lead to risky driving behaviour.

Now we're faced with the idea of an increase in big rigs, at a time when even heavier trucks are being trialled. More frustration looms for drivers, and more danger.

Yes, the New Zealand Transport Association (NZTA) suggests bigger trucks will mean fewer truck trips, but I tend to side with Andrew Dixon, the Timaru District Council's land transport manager, on this, when he says "all signs point to larger vehicles on our roading network, and more of them".

Given that permits issued by the NZTA for 53-tonne-plus High Performance Motor Vehicles on the Canterbury roading network increased from 81 in 2011 to 587 in 2013, it's hard to see truck movements reducing any time soon.

Which means we're simply going to have to follow the advice of road safety coordinator Daniel Naude to be patient, and to allow extra time for journeys, if we want to avoid increased risk on the road.

Makes me wonder what the heck we're doing with a perfectly good rail corridor, though.

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- The Timaru Herald

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