Kerre McIvor

Kerre McIvor is a Herald on Sunday columnist

Kerre McIvor: Chill out and stay ticket-free

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The lowering of the speed tolerance limit is seen by some as revenue gathering. Photo / Sarah Ivey
The lowering of the speed tolerance limit is seen by some as revenue gathering. Photo / Sarah Ivey

Police have hailed the lowering of the speed limit tolerance as a success after a marked reduction in the number of road fatalities.

Fifty-two people died in car accidents between December 1 and January 23 last year. This year, 37 people died - still 37 too many, but any decrease in fatalities is welcome news.

I'm surprised there aren't more deaths on our roads given our appalling attitudes once we get behind the wheels of our vehicles. We're generally laidback, easygoing, hakuna matata people, we're Kiwis.

We don't get exercised or vexed over too many issues. We're also quite polite and considerate when you meet us in person.

But put us into our little four-wheel metal boxes and it's as though we transform into tyrannical dictators and that all other motorists must yield before us.

Normally mild-mannered individuals (myself, on occasion, included) morph into foul-mouthed raving lunatics if anyone has the temerity to make a mistake on the roads.

Woe betide any motorist who travels at a speed we deem too slow, and road rules apply to other people, not to ourselves.

Take the lowering of the speeding tolerance - talkback lines were clogged for much of this week with people who pretty much declared that the lowered tolerance was simply revenue-gathering and they would drive at whatever speed they wished.

A couple of men said that because they drove a late-model vehicle and had superior reflexes they shouldn't have to drive at 100km/h on the open road - they were capable of driving much faster.

Speed isn't the only reason for accidents on the road - driver fatigue, inattention, inexperience and substance abuse all play their part.

But as the excellent road safety ad running at present shows us, going even a little over the speed limit reduces the time and the options drivers have to get out of trouble.

I don't think police should be focusing solely on drivers doing 5km/h over the limit. Slow drivers are a hazard on the roads, too, and need to be given a gee-up by traffic units.

In the year since the speed limit tolerance was lowered from 9km/h to 4km/h, 58,000 people received tickets for exceeding speeds by between 5km/h and 10km/h. It would be interesting to know how many were ticketed for slow driving.

But ultimately it won't be the police and their tickets and their reduced speed tolerance that make the roads safer for us all - that duty is up to us.

We have to be kinder to each other and accept that anyone can make a mistake and that people haven't got into their cars and on to the roads simply to annoy you.

Chill out. Relax. Stay the same good-natured, friendly, positive person you would be if you encountered your fellow motorists at a social function. And obey the road rules. Whether you get a ticket is entirely in your hands.

- Herald on Sunday

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