I may be on holiday, but I just had to reflect on the latest mega–tragedy on New Zealand roads – the deaths of three young teens, including two brothers, after a high-speed crash in Christchurch as police tried to stop them.

Pursuits do not start simply because someone wants to go for a bit of a drag with flashing lights in their way wake. It's usually the vehicle (its status or "behaviour") or what's in it that's the issue.

Putting all other issues aside for the purpose of this argument, such as the distorted environments in which modern society places its young, one of the most urgent needs in this country is to address proper driving training for all.

We have reached the stage when it seems more young drivers do their driver training in front of a screen with joystick or remote control in hand - driving machinery that is essentially thin air and doesn't weigh as much as an ounce.


When it comes to looking for new customers, your local driving school doesn't stand a show.

Through the drive of such forces as the Howard League and Mike Williams, a regular columnist in Hawke's Bay Today, there are some moves towards making formal training more available, but it can't happen fast enough.

The Government should be working to ensure that every teen is trained to drive, at full licence level, before they leave school, whatever the cost.

It might even encourage some young people to stay at school longer.

A shortage of driving education is the driving factor in the current increase in the road toll.

Speed-chase types of fatalities seem to be increasing, but mainly in parts of the country where the road toll is otherwise decreasing.

The other significant increase seems to involve drivers new to New Zealand roads, ie, visitors to New Zealand, often used to driving on the other side of the road, and not used to the often winding nature of New Zealand's scenic routes.

Interestingly, in the last year, the road toll in New Zealand increased in the area north-south from Waikato to Palmerston north, and west-east from New Plymouth to Tauranga-Rotorua.


This area - Tauranga, Rotorua and Taupo in particular - that has heavy traffic flows of this visitor traffic and where evading drifting vehicles with drivers transfixed by a navigational aid is becoming another of the skills of the adept Kiwi motorist.

A casual observation is that road deaths involving young and untrained or inexperienced drivers (and panicking), and disoriented drivers unfamiliar with New Zealand driving conditions could be 20-25 per cent of the annual toll.