Whatever time of the day you're reading this column, I hope you're having a lovely Sunday. I hope I'm having a lovely Sunday too.

The plan is that I will be up in our sanctuary in the Hokianga with my daughter, son-in-law and grandson, who have just arrived from London.

If it's mid morning, maybe we're having a coffee, planning the day ahead; if it's early afternoon, six-month-old Bart might be having a snooze and all going well, the older members of the family will be doing the same.

But I'm nervous. I'm trying not to tip myself over into fearful but I'm definitely nervous.


It's a four hour drive to the Hokianga. For much of that drive, the only thing preventing our family being completely and irrevocably devastated is a strip of yellow paint.

I cannot imagine life without my family. I can't begin to think about how our wider family and friends would begin to pick up the pieces if we ended up being taken out by another driver.

And I can't imagine how I would go on living if it was my poor decision or recklessness that devastated another family.

And yet right around the country, as has been brutally emphasised in the past 10 days, mums and dads and brothers and sisters and lovers and friends are having to deal with the impact of having someone they loved wrenched from their lives.

No time to say goodbye, no chance to heal past hurts - bang. Gone. In a blink of an eye.

Some of the crashes were people being in the wrong place at the wrong time and there was nothing they could have done to avoid the smash.

Others, however, were responsible for the carnage. It might have been a simple mistake and let's face it, most of us make them.

What's more, most of us recover from our mistakes. Even whoppers. We can take heed of the consequences of poor decision making and we get the chance to live and learn. But simple physics mean mistakes on the road can, indeed, have been, fatal.


For so many people already this year, that's it. No more chances.

I have approached the drive north as a mission. I generally do but this time my focus has been sharpened because of the recent carnage on the roads and because of the precious cargo I'm transporting.

I haven't had a drink all week and I've gone to bed early and tried to get some quality sleep.

I have arranged to call in and visit friends who live halfway between Auckland and Opononi and I won't be having my cellphone on while I'm driving - not even handsfree.

How I'm going to be able to resist glancing in the rear view mirror to steal glimpses of my grandson, a grandson I haven't seen for nearly five months, I don't know, but I shall simply have to.

Road users have a social contract to one another. Speed cameras, patrol cars, steeper fines - they may play a part in getting people to moderate their driving to the conditions.

But understanding we're responsible for one another on the roads is going to make the most difference.

I've done my best to prepare for the journey ahead - and I'll be doing the same for the drive home.

And I'm putting my trust in those of you travelling at the same time as we are that you are alert, aware and in the best possible shape for driving 1000kg of metal at 100 kilometres an hour.

Neither you nor I will be able to make mistakes. Not if we want to see our babies grow up.