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 =