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Advance NZ - Open letter to Harry Duynhoven

22/08/2005

Advance NZ - Open letter to Harry Duynhoven

Open letter to Harry Duynhoven

Dear Harry,

May I say how pleased I am to see someone in a position of influence make a commonsense statement about 'speeding'? (Herald 22/08/05) The campaign that has been conducted against all drivers, with the exception apparently of truckies, on the theme 'speed kills' has resulted in a mindset by enforcement which has precluded most of the other factors involved in the road toll.

Of course speed is the major factor in the level of injury incurred when a vehicle stops violently, whatever the object is that it hits or the circumstances surrounding the incident. Speed on its own however is not and in the history of the motor vehicle has never been, in isolation, a cause of accidents.

Even when the first car was built and top speeds were something like 20 Km/h people had been dying in 'traffic' accidents on and off the road. B.C. (before cars) people were dying in horse and buggy accidents, due to a wide variety of factors related to poor roading, poor maintenance of horses and buggies, drunk drivers, dumb decision, lack of experience etc. Speed per se was obviously not a major contributory factor except where it was inappropriate..

The same factors still apply today but more so, given the sheer volume of traffic on roads that generally have not been upgraded to cope with increased traffic flows or higher speeds. The main factor however remains the person behind in the wheel, in charge of machinery easily capable of traveling at well over the countries top speed limits and in the main lacking in the experience and skills required, within a much reduced timeframe, to make the correct decisions when faced with a potential accident.

The current policing regime, which is focused on lowering the average speed on our roads by strict enforcement of speed limits, is no longer effective because it is the other contributory factors that are not being policed effectively if at all e.g. failing to keep left, inattention, inappropriate overtaking, drugs, inconsiderate behaviour and poor decision making to name but a few, which are keeping the road toll higher than it should be.

In regard to the Governor-General's driver traveling at 130Km/h, it is the other factors around the incident that should be the focus of any enquiry rather than just the speed. The traffic volumes, the road and weather status, the experience of the driver, the condition of the vehicle, the mindset and state of the driver are all factors that dictate if such a speed in the prevailing circumstances would likely cause an accident. I suspect the answer would be no.

Mr. Duynhoven may have used inappropriate language in saying not to be too 'prissy' about the incident but that should not detract from the very valid point he makes about the hypocrisy around the issue. Well done Harry.

ENDS

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