It’s contagious 

In Newsletter Editorial3 MinutesBy Dave McCoidNovember 12, 2021

Another demoralising week motoring around the North Island, I have to say. There was rain all over the central North Island and, in far too many places, the state highway network had a reflective sheen you could use to comb your hair. It just bewilders me how New Zealand’s approach to spending on the ‘repair’ and ‘improvement’ of the roading system appears to focus entirely on peripheral furniture rather than the playing surface. I suspect that’s a cost thing, having heard recently from a source with multiple decades in the roading and civil industry that the same amount of dosh that bought you 40km of treatment 30 years ago buys you 10 today. I have no reason to doubt the assertion either; I mean, the cost of desensitising orange cones alone must almost account for the gap.

Of course, the cost to us of the government taking the overpriced, crappy-outcome solution to road remediation is abhorrent surfaces. That will only result in reduced speed limits, which transfers to numb drivers, and the eventual requirement for fatigue management devices in private cars. Mark my words.

The whole thing is just such a mire now, it’s almost beyond comprehension. A poorly trained and skilled population with an appalling approach to the privilege that personal mobility in the form of driving is, behave like crazed barbarians in the most capable vehicles ever made on a disgraceful, decayed, slippery road network – the whole thing mediated by politicians afraid of losing votes. How the hell the pile of bodies is not the size of the Beehive is beyond me, quite frankly.

An absolute ‘Navy Seal’ truck driver told me the other day that he’s not encouraging his boy into the industry. Not because of hours, wages, or the love of driving trucks, but because it’s an increasingly dangerous workplace.

Covid-19’s a wonderful insight into just how difficult it will be to fix anything to do with roads, or people’s approach to driving on them. Currently, the government has the entire country on hold at some level, because it is afraid of telling a minority, ‘Yes, you can make that decision, but here’s the consequence after this moment in time.’

I guess the only thing to say, is keep left, let them go, and make sure your tyres are the best you can afford. Believe me, after the past three month’s fiasco, there’ll be no appetite for looking after the modality that moves 93% of freight – or slamming the lunatics that drive on it. At least not while the modality is out of fashion with the minority, and driving’s seen as a right.

Read of the week?

Derek Fox’s article in The Herald (free edition) on who’s getting ill from Covid-19.

All the best

Dave McCoid