Roger Moroney: Driven mad by slow coaches

By Roger Moroney


It has long been accepted that speed does kill, but it has also been accepted that "slow" is a factor in creating accidents which can lead to serious injury or death.

I think we have all at some stage been stuck behind a slow-moving vehicle and felt the frustration levels rising.

The worst case I ever struck was a van being driven between Awatoto and Napier, along the waterfront stretch of State Highway 2, at just a whisper over 70km/h ... 30km/h short of the accepted, and sensible, limit.

The stretch of traffic behind this either frightened or ill-trained driver ran to about 15 vehicles and yes, a couple made daring dashes to get around him.

Not good.

And not good is what a large groundswell of motorists who regularly drive several main roads throughout the greater Hastings area are saying about a widespread introduction of 80km/h limits where once it was 100.

I believe they have a valid grievance in some cases.

Not all, but some.

Apart from wondering where the logic lies from reducing the limits by 20km/h (and that is fairly substantial in the scheme of things) many have questioned just how such wide-ranging changes, which will affect so many people, could have been made without consultation.

"It was almost as if it was done by stealth" was what prominent Havelock North businessman Rod Drury said.

He made a good point by saying that for regular commuters on the roads it would be "incredibly" frustrating.

I suspect he is right, because where the open limit is 100km/h there is a section of the driving populace who believe in subtracting about 10km/h from it and drive at 90.

They will likely also subtract a few klicks (out of habit) from the 80 and lead a procession at 70 to 75km/h.

I may be wrong but believe me, I've seen it happen.

I remember something ace V8 driver Greg Murphy once told me about speed limits.

He said 100km/h was fine, and that there was an advantage at that pace in that people tended to focus more - their reactions often sharper.

Rattling along at 70 or 80km/h on an otherwise safe open road could result in a wandering mind - reactions slow up.

I believe there is a case to reduce some open limits if the roads are narrow and speckled with side roads and crash statistics support it, but a blanket reduction across roads which appear otherwise fine is slightly perplexing.

It is an issue the council is going to address and I think rightly so.

I think there's also a case here for any council to ask their people what they think of such changes ... before they get the sign-changing contractors to work.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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