Give ’em a shovel!

In June 2023, The Last Mile4 MinutesBy The Accidental TruckerJune 30, 2023

We are a third into 2023 (at the time of writing), and what a start it has been. We are only just beginning to see the election campaign get underway, and it will be an interesting few months as the battle to get hold of the Treasury benches cranks up. That is, of course, unless the prime minister decides to bring forward the election date.

It was more than a bit disturbing to read that a key element of the Land Transport (Drug Driving) Amendment Act – random roadside drug testing – due to come into effect on 11 March 2023 would not go ahead because the technology required to do it is not available. The Land Transport (Drug Driving) Amendment Bill was introduced into the House in July 2020 as a component of the government’s Road-To-Zero strategy. Is it too much to expect that somebody would have asked if the technology was available during its progress through the legislative process? It would appear not, or if they did, it was kept out of sight. (The act, which includes increased penalties for driving under the influence of drugs, did come into effect as planned on 11 March.)

It was interesting to read an article in The Dominion Post of 15 March, attributed to Len Gillman, a professor of biogeography at AUT, claiming that a reduction in the maximum speed limit to 80km/h on our roads would reduce emissions by approximately 15%. For more than 50 years, I have believed that fuel use was largely influenced by the engine’s speed, not the vehicle’s road speed. Thus, we saw the introduction of gearboxes fitted with overdrives in the 1930s, culminating in the multi-speed gearbox we see today. It is also why we see green bands on the tachometer of many trucks following the gear-fast-run-slow principle, which allows the vehicle to operate in the most fuel-efficient rev range while maintaining the necessary torque to keep it moving. So, I am at a loss to understand what the professor is getting at – but, then, I never reached such dizzy heights of academia, either.

As one who used to fly a lot, going through security always bugged me. But these are the rules; if you want to fly, you must live with them. I read with interest, therefore, a story about a delay at the domestic terminal in Auckland when an aviation security officer saw what appeared to be a knife in a passenger’s baggage. A rescreening of bag showed no item resembling a knife, but nonetheless, aviation security decided that all passengers who had passed through security and waiting to board had to be rescreened while AvSec undertook a “sterile check” of the airside area. Nobody has asked is why, having established there was nothing suspicious via the second screening, it was necessary to then rescreen everybody who had already passed through security. Or was this just another example of “we have the power, so let’s use it”?

Delaying and/or scrapping some transport-related projects to focus on more important things will undoubtedly leave several people at NZTA pondering what to do next. I have a simple solution, give them all a pick, shovel and wheelbarrow and send them to Hawke’s Bay to help with the clean-up. And when that’s finished, send them out to fix potholes. It will keep them gainfully employed for years, and at the end of each day, they will actually have something to show for their efforts. What PR they could spin from this.