Eric Thompson: Safety sense sure sign of old age

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Kids, practise skateboarding where cars can't hurt you. You'll live longer. Photo / Thinkstock
Kids, practise skateboarding where cars can't hurt you. You'll live longer. Photo / Thinkstock

I think I used my last "get out of jail free" card on Good Friday. I could easily have had to write this from a jail cell because of the undeniable arrogance, selfishness and ignorance of a teenager.

I shouldn't really heap all my frustration on said child, rather the lack of parenting skills in their upbringing.

What happened was that I nearly took out an obnoxious young skateboarder in a carpark as I was leaving because he shot off the pavement right in front of my car.

Sliding to a halt millimetres from his boggle-eyed stare, I strongly suggested he used a skatepark, not a public carpark. As expected, when he recovered his composure, he flipped me the bird and buggered off.

As an aside, I wonder how he and his ilk, who are trying to take over public roads and use them as a skating arena, would feel if I drove my car into a skatepark to see how it went on a half pipe, or whatever it's called.

Back to numpty though. After he'd buggered off, and my heart returned to it's normal rhythm, some fat bloke waddled over and proceeded to remonstrate with me about how I had nearly taken his kid out.

I suggested he should sit his child down and explain the basics of the road code - it's called a carpark because it's for cars, not skateboards, and a skatepark is for skateboards not cars.

Simple I suggested. He then had a verbal lash saying it was all my fault for not watching where I was going. It went back and forth for a bit until I realised this parent had no interest in teaching his children personal responsibility, so I drove off.

My life regarding motoring, and all connected things, is usually pretty normal nine-tenths of the year up here, in and around the environs of Warkworth, Matakana, that is, until folk from the dark side descend for a holiday weekend or a summer holiday.

After a number of years of living up here I still struggle to understand the nut-bar lack of understanding Aucklanders have on how to drive safely, and the assumption things in different locations are the same as they are back in their street.

When I'm in Auckland I drive with a huge amount of care and attention because most people in our biggest city drive really big cars on small roads, and the children are allowed to use their streets as a personal playground. Most normal people teach their children that a road is place to avoid at all costs, and not to be used as a plaything.

I don't know what is in the water down south, but it occurs to me that road safety and how children are taught about it, is not just plain odd, but maybe non-existent.

In my childhood I was taught that a motor vehicle is something to be feared and very much respectful of, even it's only travelling at 10km/h. This was explained to me and my siblings quite simply - car weighs two plus tonnes, you weigh 50kg, therefore don't walk, run, skateboard, ride a pushbike, walk a dog, or step off the pavement in front of one. Rather simple, really.

I know for a fact that if I had hit that teenager, I would be the one in so much deep shite it would be scary. My problem is the teenager, and his parents, who had scant regard for anybody or anything, would have been the victims. And so the cycle of personal responsibility denial would have turned another few degrees.

My advice - if you screw up, people, take the hit. Don't blame me.

- NZ Herald

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