Being visible is basic so hit the lights

By Roger Moroney


During the middle of last winter, I called in to have a chat with a couple of police traffic unit officers at the Napier station.

I was seeking information about a prang in Carlyle St and luckily caught the lads before they were about to head out again into the wet and wild weather.

One of those days when they had to wear heavy-duty, wet-weather gear.

And one of those days when journalists, or anybody for that matter, were forbidden to use the "q" word.

No way in the wet world was I going to offer a cheery "hope things stay quiet for you" when I left.

It's called tempting fate.

One of the crew said while some people found the sound of rain on the roof at night oddly soothing and soporific, the traffic front-liners generally greeted it with a unified "uh-oh".

More so if the rain was heavy and came after a period of fine conditions as it tended to catch out the sort of people who often fail to comprehend exactly what "drive to the conditions" means.

In poor weather, the main safety component is visibility.

I spotted a text in yesterday's paper from a reader who spotted 23 cars and two trucks on a stretch of the Expressway on Wednesday which, despite the grey, rainy, grim and dim conditions, did not have their headlights on.

An hour later, while edging out of King St in Taradale into Meeanee Rd, I thought about it again ... because I saw it for myself.

A heavy shower had drifted across the area and it was, as they delightfully say, bucketing down.

A gusting wind was coming from my right, which swirled the water on my driver's window ... which unlike the front is a wiper-free zone.

It was enough to blur the lights of vehicles but I could see them.

But the gloom and the rippling window waters completely dissolved a van coming from my right.

It had no lights showing and, to make matters worse, it was dark green.

I saw it when it was maybe 30m away and all I could think was "it's going to get someone".

Was the driver concerned about rising power charges?

Had he or she been unable to find the handbook which tells them where the light switch is?

Had they been watching Dad's Army and still had "put that light out!" ringing in their ears?

Police don't like the "q" word but they embrace the "v" word and it is visibility.

While the weather is bleak, let's all embrace it as well.

Lights on.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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