This is a laudable plan from our Boys and Girls in Blue, and I’ve no problem with it. Holiday periods are generally a bad time on the roads where every manner of bad driving habits are manifested by drivers.
With increased numbers on our roads during the December/January period, such bad driving habits are multiplied, until a “critical mass” of stupidity is reached, or peoples’ luck just runs out.
It’s often not speed per se that is the dangerous driving habit of many drivers. Case in point…
On 23 November, after a three and a half month absence down south, I was returning home. On SH1, somewhere on the open road north of Christchurch and south of Marlborough, I encountered some driving practices that simply took my breath away.
All involved tail-gating on such a dangerous level that, at any moment, I expected a crash.
The first was a light-coloured Pajero, driven by a male and a female passenger, who first tail-gated me. At several points he was so close to me that I could barely see his headlights – they were below the line-of-sight of my vision, hidden by the spoilers of my own vehicle.
It wasn’t as if I was travelling at some silly slow speed on the open road; I was driving at, or just about 100kph.
After several minutes of the driver’s menacing behaviour, I pulled out my cellphone to call *555 and warn police that a madman was loose on our highways.
As I gave Police details of what I was witnessing, the Pajero overtook me; the driver gestured (no, not a friendly wave); and then proceeded to tailgate the next car – a reddish-orange, early model American sedan. After several minutes, the Pajero overtook the American car and sped off into the distance.
A little later in the day, I witnessed not just another instance of tail-gating – but an attempted over-taking manouver that very nearly ended in disaster.
Check out the photo below. Note how close he is to the red car in front of him. Note his position on the road – he is about to attempt an over-taking manouver.
Note the blind bend we are approaching.
And note the on-coming traffic!!
Luckily, the driver of the Bluebird saw the on-coming vehicle as well and quickly swerved back into our own lane. Had he completed pulling out and attempted to over-take, it would have ended up with lethal consequences.
By the way, the same Bluebird had over-taken me a little earlier. As he passed me, I noticed a young child in the back seat.
As someone who often drives on the open road, I sometimes witness mind-boggling instances of tail-gating and dangerous over-taking.
I’ve never witnessed so many hair-raising incidences in one day and on one road.
Today (6 December), I finally emailed Assistant Commissioner on Road Policing, Dave Cliff, on this problem. I asked him if tail-gating was to be treated with the same attention and severity as speeding,
from: Frank Macskasy
to: Dave Cliff <email@example.com>
date: Fri, Dec 6, 2013 at 1:40 PM
subject: Road safety enforcementKia ora Mr Cliff,
I am aware that Police are reducing speed tolerances over the December and January period, ostensibly to reduce the road toll during the Christmas/New Year holiday months.
Whilst I have no problem with this policy, I am enquiring what steps the Police will take regarding other dangerous driving practices.
Specifically, I am referring to the increasing prevalence of tail-gating.
On 23 November this year, whilst driving north on SH1 between Christchurch and Picton, I encountered several instances of dangerous tail-gating. One driver – rego [redacted], a Pajero – drove so close behind me that his headlights were almost below line-of-sight of the rear of my car.
The driver persisted in his menacing behaviour, forcing me to phone *555 to lodge a complaint.After the Pajero driver over-took me, the male driver proceeded to tail-gate an orange, early-model, American car (a Charger, I believe).
Travelling at 100kph on the open road, had I or the driver of the Charger been forced to brake suddenly, the results would have been predictably disastrous.
On the same day, and stretch of road, a grey Bluebird, rego [redacted], was seen to be tailgating another car in front of me, and made a hair-raising attempt to over-take as we approached a blind-bend. (See pic attached).
Even on urban motorways such as SH2 and SH1 in the Greater Wellington region, I witness dangerous and increasingly stupid instances of tail-gating.One of the first things I learnt as a learner-drive in my teens was to keep one car distance per each 10kph driven speed.Many of these instances I have described would be lucky to have had two (or maybe maximum three) car distances between them.
Will police be focusing on this dangerous practice? And will you be highlighting this in any upcoming media conference?
I believe this matter deserves as much attention and action as your crack-down on speeding drivers.
[image above attached]
It will be interesting to see what reply, if any, Assistant Commissioner Dave Cliff makes on this.
In my humble opinion, tail-gating and dangerous over-taking as dangerous – if not more so – than speeding. The potential for disaster increases as such stupid behaviour becomes more and more reckless.
If you encounter such unbridled stupidity on the roads, ring *555, and inform the Police immediatly. You could be saving a life.
I received this response four days later,
from: HEALEY, Bryan <Bryan.Healey@police.govt.nz>
to: Frank Macskasy
date: Tue, Dec 10, 2013 at 9:15 AM
subject: Road safety Enforcement
Frank…..I am in receipt of your email to Ass. Commissioner Dave Cliff.
My question to you is, do you want to make a formal complaint against the other drivers or work through the Community Road Watch Programme?
The formal venture is by way of court action, the CRW programme is none formal and brings the matter to the attention of the drivers manner of driving.
I responded, thusly,
from: Frank Macskasy
to: “HEALEY, Bryan” <Bryan.Healey@police.govt.nz>
date: Tue, Dec 10, 2013 at 5:14 PM
subject: Re: Road safety Enforcement
Kia ora Bryan,
I would be more inclined to pursue the option of the Community Road Watch Programme. It is less punitive and hopefully should serve to remind the drivers that tail-gating (especially as I encountered it) is unacceptable behaviour (and potentially dangerous).
As I wrote originally to Ass. Commissioner Dave Cliff, the practice of tail-gating seems to be becoming a more regular occurrence and I was interested whether or not Police intend to focus on this offense, as they will be on speeding over the December/January period?
In the meantime, pursuing this matter with the two drivers through the CRW Programme appears to be the best option.
I realise I could have insisted on a prosecution – but in instances like these, education might be more effective than putting someone through an expensive Court system?
It was interesting to note that Snr Sgt Healey did not reply to my question;
“…the practice of tail-gating seems to be becoming a more regular occurrence and I was interested whether or not Police intend to focus on this offense, as they will be on speeding over the December/January period?“
Let’s hope the wheels are slowly turning on this problem at Police HQ.
Disclaimer: I’m no saint, and have had my share of parking infringement notices and speeding tickets. Especially in my wilder, youthful days.
= fs =
Continued from: John Banks – escaping justice (Part Rua)
A link to the blogpost, John Banks – escaping justice (Part Rua) was emailed to John Banks earlier today (14 September).
Unexpectedly, this blogger has received a response from John Banks’ office,
Date: Friday, 14 September 2012 3:12 PM
From: Christopher Diack <Christopher.Diack@parliament.govt.nz>
To: “‘firstname.lastname@example.org'” <email@example.com>
Subject: RE: John Banks.
On behalf of the Hon John Banks Leader of ACT and MP for Epsom thank you for your email of 14 September 2012 regarding the recent release of Official Information relating to the investigation into Mr Banks’ 2010 return of donations and expenses for the election of the mayor of Auckland.
Mr Banks has asked me to respond as follows.
In our system of government the Police independently decide if there is a case to answer and if charges are laid under the law.
Mr Banks filed his return in good faith believing it to be correct and true.
There was an extensive three month investigation by the Police which weighed all the evidence and concluded that the intent to file a return that was materially false was not established. Therefore no charges were laid. The conclusion is that Mr Banks has complied with the law.
As far as Mr Banks is concerned the matter is closed.
Christopher J. W. Diack
Chief of Staff & Legal Advisor
Office of Hon. John Banks, CNZM, QSO
Minister for Regulatory Reform | Minister for Small Business | Associate Minister of Commerce
Associate Minister of Education | MP for Epsom | Leader ACT New Zealand.
11.21 Bowen House
DDI +64 4 817 6970 | FAX +64 4 817 6523 | Mobile +64 21 800 901
Actually receiving a response…
We must be living in an Age of Miracles…
Reply emailed to Mr Diack this evening (15 September),
Date: Saturday, 15 September 2012 8:43 PM
From: Frank Macskasy <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Reply-To: Frank Macskasy <email@example.com>
Subject: Re: John Banks.
To: Christopher Diack <Christopher.Diack@parliament.govt.nz>
Cc: John Key <firstname.lastname@example.org>Kia ora, Chris,Thank you for responding to me letter, and with promptness. Your courtesy in this area is to your credit considering that most National ministers no longer bother to reply to correspondence from the public.In response to your email dated 14 September, I would like to pose several questions that you and Minister Banks may be able to assist with, and clarify.1. Can you confirm that Minister Banks has declined to give permission for his Statement to the Police, to be released to the public?2. Can you or Minister Banks explain why he refuses to make public his Statement when he has consistantly adopted a personal position that he had “nothing to fear, nothing to hide”?3. You stated that “Mr Banks filed his return in good faith believing it to be correct and true”. How do you reconcile that assertion when Minister Banks requested that Kim Dotcom split his $50,000 donation in two equal parts of $25,000 each, so as to be recorded as anonymous donations? 4. You stated that “Mr Banks filed his return in good faith believing it to be correct and true”. How can that be true when, Minister Banks’ own lawyer, Gregory Towers, stated to Police investigators that Minister Banks instructed him on 8 February, “… that as much as [he, John Banks] wished to publicly support Kim that may backfire on Kim if it became known about the election support” – and yet on 27 April, nearly three months later, Minister Banks told TV3 News, “Well, I don’t know. I mean I haven’t seen the forms now for a couple of years, so I don’t know who gave me money, I can’t remember now”.5. Are you or Minister Banks aware that, on 2 May, ACT Party President, Chris Simmons, was interviewed on Radio New Zealand’s “Checkpoint” programme by Mary Wilson, where he stated that splitting the $50,000 donation was, “…one of the suggestions made to Dotcom.… He has given me an indication why he made that suggestion and that was that he initially was going to put in $25,000 of his own money and he figured that other people should be putting in the same sort of numbers”. Was Mr Simmons correct in that initial statement?
6. Mr Banks’ mayoral campaign received three additional “anonymous” $25,000 donations for his mayoral campaigns. Who were those donations from? Were they one $75,000 donation from one individual/organisation? Were receipts issued for those donations? Did the Police investigate the source of those donations? What, if anything, was the outcome of scrutiny into those three $25,000 donations?
7. You stated in your email to me that ” The conclusion is that Mr Banks has complied with the law. ” How do you reconcile that proposition with Police statements that they are unable to prosecute because the matter falls outside a statute of limitations on laying prosecutions? Do you accept that rather than ” the conclusion is that Mr Banks has complied with the law”, that Minister Banks escaped prosecution only because of a legal technicality?
8. You further stated in your email to me that “There was an extensive three month investigation by the Police which weighed all the evidence and concluded that the intent to file a return that was materially false was not established. ” How do you reconcile that statement with a claim by Ms Mackey, who challenged claims that Mr Banks signed the Electoral Form without reading it and insisted, “But John Banks did read the document.” And do you accept that rather than ” the conclusion is that Mr Banks has complied with the law”, that Minister Banks escaped prosecution only because of a legal technicality?
9. Is Minister Banks in a habit of signing documents he has not read?
10. Is it correct that Minister Banks incited Kim Dotcom to break the Electoral law on reporting donations by advising him to hide the $50,000 donation: “I want to help you Kim and I can help you more effectively if no-one knows about this donation.”?
11. Are you or Minister Banks aware that Skycity received a receipt from Bank’s Campaign Treasurer for their $15,000 donation and that donation was later listed as ‘anonymous’? How can a donation that was acknowledged by way of a written receipt be considered as “anonymous”? What is the definition of “anonymous” when the identity of the donor is known?
12. Why did Minister Banks continue to insist to media and public alike, that he had no memory of any of these matters – and yet evidence and statements by others proved that he had full knowledge of donations made; the identity of donors; that he advised donors how to ensure that donations were recorded as “anonymous”; and that Minister Banks had sought prior legal advice how to evade provisions of the Local Electoral Act 2001?
13. Will Minister Banks offer his resignation to the Prime Minister and step down from all ministerial roles?I look forward to answers to these questions and matters raised therein.Thank you for your time.Regards,-Frank MacskasyBlogger
Mr Diack’s response, received this morning (17 September),
Date: Sunday, 16 September 2012 6:26 PM
From: Christopher Diack <Christopher.Diack@parliament.govt.nz>
To: ‘Frank Macskasy’ <email@example.com>
Subject: RE: John Banks.
Please refer to my earlier email.
Unfortunately, Chris Diack’s previous email does not answer any of the thirteen questions put to John Banks. (In fact, this blogger is aware that Mr Diack’s response has been sent to other citizens, who have emailed his office expressing concerns on this issue.)
This is unacceptable and I wonder how Messrs Diack and Banks can reconcile their evasiveness with the latters constant mantra, “nothing to fear, nothing to hide”.
John Banks seems to be hiding a great deal and his continuing warrant to serve as a Minister of the Crown is based solely on the desperation of his patron, John Key, to preserve his one seat majority in Parliament. This is the sordid, shabby, self-serving situation that John Key lambasted Prime Minister Helen Clark, over the Winston Peters-Owen Glenn donations affair,
“ Peters unacceptable in a National-led Government
Wednesday, 27 August 2008, 4:24 pm
Press Release: New Zealand National Party
John Key MP
National Party Leader
27 August 2008
Peters unacceptable in a National-led Government
National Party Leader John Key says Winston Peters would be unacceptable as a Minister in a government led by him unless Mr Peters can provide a credible explanation on the Owen Glenn saga.
“Labour Party donor Owen Glenn’s letter to the Privileges Committee completely contradicts Winston Peters’ version of events about the substantial $100,000 donation made by Mr Glenn to Mr Peters’ legal costs.
“Mr Glenn’s letter represents a direct challenge to Mr Peters’ credibility, from the only other person in the world in a position to know the facts.
“From Parliament’s point of view, the Privileges Committee provides an appropriate vehicle to resolve the points of conflict and to hold individuals to account. But from the Prime Minister’s and the Government’s point of view, that is not enough.
“Governments and Ministers must enjoy the confidence of the Parliament and, ultimately, the public. Faced with today’s revelations, it is no longer acceptable for Mr Peters to offer bluster and insults where simple, courteous, honest answers are required.
“It is no longer acceptable or credible for Helen Clark to assert a facade of confidence in her Foreign Affairs Minister and to fail to ask the plain questions of him that she has a duty to the public to ask.
“Faced with today’s revelations, Helen Clark must stand Mr Peters down as a Minister. That is what I would do if I were Prime Minister. Helen Clark has stood Ministers from Labour down for much less.
“Unless he can provide a credible explanation about this serious issue, he should be unacceptable to Helen Clark as a Minister in her Labour-led Government.
“Mr Peters will be unacceptable as a Minister in a government led by me unless he can provide a credible explanation”. “
Same desperation to to hang on.
It is even more laughable that John Key states that he has not read the Police file on this case; is not going to read the Police report; and is satisfied that he has taken John Banks at his word,
” Shane: This isn’t about the issue being you. All I want to know is having read the police report, whether you believe Mr Banks when he said -
John: I haven’t read that police report, and I’m not going to because I don’t need to. I rely, as any prime minister would, that I enjoy the confidence -
Shane: Why wouldn’t you read the police report?
John: Because it’s not my job to do a forensic analysis. What I can tell you is the law doesn’t work. What I can tell you is this is a politically motivated attempt by the Labour Party to get at the government. Fair enough. That’s called politics.
Shane: So you believe him even though others say he was lying?
John: No, what I’m saying to you is accept his word. I accept that the law is very ambiguous, and I accept that the Labour Party are using this as a politically motivated attempt to get to the government. Because they’re not going after – This is a guy that lost the mayoral election. They didn’t try and test this out after he lost. They didn’t test it out for every other candidate. They’re not testing it out around the country. And, by the way, when they changed the central government law around donations, they didn’t bother to do it for local government. But today they care about it, and that’s because it’s politically motivated. “
Throughout this shameful affair, the public has seen John Banks obfuscating; forgetting; lying; and blaming everyone else for his own actions.
For John Key to buy into the “blame-everyone-else-game” (Labour, the law, etc) shows how bankrupt National’s Standards really are.
National and ACT demand a high standard of personal responsibility from everyone else. They are the Parties built on the mantra of Taking Personal Responsibility. It is the height of hypocrisy that neither Banks nor his handler are prepared to Take Personal Responsibility they expect from everyone else,
“ But it is also true that anyone on a benefit actually has a lifestyle choice. If one budgets properly, one can pay one’s bills.
“And that is true because the bulk of New Zealanders on a benefit do actually pay for food, their rent and other things. Now some make poor choices and they don’t have money left.”
Whilst the poor are beaten about their heads with messages of Taking Personal Responsibility, dishonest politicians who escape prosecution on technicalities and the patronage of the Prime Minister, laugh and thumb their noses at the law.
No wonder that John Key has stated that if National loses at an election that he would step down as Party leader,
“He also said he had made it reasonably clear that he did not want to revert to being Opposition leader.
“I don’t think it suits me as a person. I’m not a negative person and a lot of Opposition is negative“.”
I would add that Key’s credibility is shot to hell and he could never again launch a critical attack on a Labour government minister who has been shown to be engaged in lies and wrongdoing. The word “hypocrite” would echo through the Debating Chamber every time Key stood to criticise someone.
If, reading this, you feel a sense of frustration and outrage that our elected representatives can behave in such a reprehensible manner – rest assured, you are quite normal and your “moral compass” is set as it should be.
If, however, you are an ACT or National supporter, and you see nothing wrong with Banks’ and Key’s behaviour – rest assured, this new standard of political cronyism will be used by future governments when it suits their purposes.
No doubt then we’ll hear some serious braying and moral chest-thumping from National/ACT supporters?
Oh, how I’ll look forward to that day.
= fs =