What was it like to do 100km/h down the motorway, Dad?
It's so long ago I can hardly remember, son.
Must have been awesome.
Yes, I suppose it was. The car made it to top gear every trip. A bit different to now.
What was top gear like?
Fast, son. Quiet. Smooth.
Wow. You must have got to places pretty quick before the 50k limit came in.
I can't imagine. You were so lucky to be around then.
We were very lucky. They were good times. We had beautiful big cars. Did granddad tell you about the old days with V8s and V12s and SUVs?
Yes, Dad. But his memory is going a bit funny. He says people used to drive around town at 50km/h.
They did, son. People were allowed to drive around that fast. In fact a lot of people complained it was too slow. On some arterial routes we were allowed to go 60km/h.
Is that right? It must have been dreadfully dangerous. Did a lot of people get killed in accidents before the 15km/h limit come in?
Well … no, son … not really. There were only about 40 or 50 road deaths a year before it came in. About the same as now really.
Eh? I thought the speed limit thing was meant to lower the road toll.
I think you're right. From memory, it was the road-toll argument that started the whole go-slow thing. It was meant to save lives.
But it hasn't. So why didn't they let people get to places faster again.
Um … I dunno really, son. They were strange times when I think about it. There was never a vote or anything on speed limits.
So how did it happen?
Well, we did vote for our council. But the council then appointed a board to control our traffic flows. The board was just allowed to do whatever it liked really. They didn't have to stand for election.
So you're saying no one ever actually agreed to the go-slow limits? This board just announced it. And everyone went along with it?
I'm trying to think back. The road toll was nothing to do with the board at the start. The cops looked after road safety. But somewhere along the way the board started to narrow all our roads with islands to slow us down. Took traffic lanes away for pedestrian walkways and built heaps of those empty cycle lanes.
Dad, I'm confused. You said the board was there to improve traffic flows.
I know, it sounds a bit crazy. It's all so long ago. You need to understand that back in those days cars were regarded as bad things. Polluters. Most of them used petrol and diesel. There was a great fear we were about to have a climate emergency. Things sort of got out of hand and we all … well … got slowed down.
What happened to the climate emergency?
To be honest, I'm not sure. Nothing as far as I know. I think the climate emergency people turned their attention to closing down hydro dams because they were killing too many fish. Are you yawning?
Yeah. How long do you think it'll take us to get back to Takapuna?
Should be there in a couple in hours, we're almost at Greenlane.
You know what makes the trip so boring now, dad? Not being allowed to turn on the radio.
Don't blame me, son. Our National Tranquil Travel Authority now reckon the road toll will finally fall if drivers aren't distracted by talkback and music.
I think they might be right, Dad. Remember how you used to yell at the talkback hosts? It was quite entertaining to …
Shh. Stop talking, son. Zip it. I think I can hear a siren. Oh, bugger. It's a motorbike cop. Now he's right behind us. He's snapped my number plate. He's seen us talking.
That's another 50 demerits, for me allowing a distraction. That'll be the end of my licence for six months.
Sorry, Dad. I know passengers aren't allowed to talk anymore.
That's okay, son. But your mother won't be happy. Now she'll be lumbered with the four-hour run to visit Granddad in Clevedon.