Close calls 

In Newsletter Editorial5 MinutesBy Gavin MyersDecember 3, 2021

When I was learning to drive, my grandmother gave me a piece of advice I’ll never forget. “Be aware of the other idiots on the road,” she said with all the love in the world, though slightly backhandedly.

It’s a profound, lowest-common-denominator reminder that some people go into their own world when they get behind the wheel. Over the years, her wisdom has rung true numerous times; I’ve come across many an idiot and been one myself, and each time I recall her imparting those words.

On Monday, I was heading home over the Kaimais and, unnervingly, came face-to-face with the biggest idiot in recent memory. Heading east towards Tauranga, I was third in line behind a curtainside truck and trailer descending the Lower Kaimias at a steady 60kph. We approached a passing lane, and the friendly truck driver indicated left before moving over to allow us to pass.

Another truck was coming towards us, heading uphill in the single westbound lane. He’d have been loaded as progress was slow – maybe 30kph – and there was a line of 12 to 15 vehicles following.

Back in the eastbound lane with the curtainside moving over, the first car in line put the hammer down and made a clean pass. The vehicle ahead of me followed, as did I. He indicated left and moved over, and I followed him across. And just as well as perhaps 50m further ahead and facing us head-on was an approaching Subaru. By this time, we were past the slow-moving westbound truck.

That’s right, from about six vehicles back, some utterly moronic cretin decided crossing the double-yellows into oncoming, overtaking traffic was a good idea. Now safely in the left-hand lane, we passed each other, and I looked back in my wing mirror to see the vehicle following make it in behind me as the Subaru driver remained committed to gunning it to the front of the westbound queue come hell or high water.

At this point, the road bent to the left, and I lost sight of the potentially devastating chaos back up the road. I can only assume the mindless Subaru driver managed their manoeuvre without incident, as the local news hasn’t reported any tragic head-on collisions.

All’s well that ends well, then… No, because you can bet that display of reckless driving isn’t out of the ordinary for that person. It’s times like that you wish one of the vehicles in one of the queues was equipped with a set of blue and red lights, and the halfwit would immediately face the consequence of their actions. Alas, such swift justice is rarely forthcoming, so what’s to be done?

Well, in the case of idiots like this, short of them causing a horror smash or indeed being stopped by the boys in blue, not much, I suppose. Just follow grandma’s advice, and keep your distance.

I do feel, though, that SH29 over the Kaimais should have dual lanes in each direction for as much of its length as possible. Given its approximate 500m elevation change, its importance as a direct link between east and west, and its traffic volumes of both light and heavy vehicles, this could be the best way to improve safety on the road while reducing travel times and easing the journey for all road users.

That’s wishful thinking, I know – not even SH2 has been given the privilege as part of its continual ‘upgrades’ between Tauranga and Waihi. But that’s a rant (again) for another day.

Watch out for the other idiots.

Take care out there,

Gavin Myers
Assistant editor