Ready, set… Oh no! 

In Newsletter Editorial4 MinutesBy Dave McCoidDecember 10, 2021

My daughter was recently promoted at work, meaning she needed to relocate from Auckland to the Bay of Plenty. I’m not sure which one she was most excited about, the promotion or being able to escape the ‘Dome City’. Anyway, she sorted all the appropriate paperwork to travel beyond the barricades and off she went. I told her just to take it easy and be vigilant and aware of her sense of place and space on the road. I said, “You’ve been in a flat for months, with only short dashes to work or the supermarket, so your spatial awareness and distance perception might just take a bit to get its game on.”

That was me talking to a level-headed young lady who, on this occasion, took on the counsel, reporting back that she did notice it was “all a bit weird” once she was free of the Mangatawhiri border to the south of Auckland and headed into open spaces.

The release of Auckland’s masses on 15 December is something I’ve been giving increasing thought to as the city’s lockdown reaches its wired, anxious, stressed, tense, and in many instances, ever-angrier zenith. And that last quality is not entirely Auckland-facing either. When the nation’s being forced to divide and divide again on subjects such as vaccination, the resetting of societal behaviours and climate, my perception is that Kiwis have never been more tense or angry.

What’s going to happen on the 15th is anyone’s guess, but I’d wager there will be a lot of action to deal with way before the first wave of freedom-seekers ever reaches the roadblocks in the Far North, Coromandel, or East Cape. Hundreds of thousands of people who have been locked up, who are pent-up, who haven’t driven at highway speed for long stretches, day or night, for months, are going to fan out in all directions.

Yet the surprising thing for me? Five days out, there hasn’t been a flicker on this from Waka Kotahi NZTA. No constant barrage of advertising on radio, internet and TV warning Aucklanders of the potential for disaster. How on earth can they trumpet a Road to Zero campaign on the one hand and be completely missing in action on this subject? Instead, the current wave of advertising seems to be preparing us for more wholesale speed-limit reductions.

Waka Kotahi appears to be the perfect regulatory reflection of the government it serves, failing to see what’s happening before it and reacting after the event. What that means should the disastrous potential of this Christmas’ holiday season transpire is anyone’s guess. If you’re an emergency services person on duty over the summer, I hope you’re fit, well-rested, and have a good constitution.

To everyone else, for what it’s worth… Two seconds back, keep left and what does being 10 or 15 minutes late matter after four months behind the wall?

All the best

Dave McCoid