The Traffic Authorities are busy crowing this Christmas that the recently released figures for road Deaths and Accidents which are the lowest for several years. This pleasing fact they say, is because of their increased policing activity, Speed traps, and of course the intensive campaign against ‘Driving while under the influence’ and not forgetting for a minute the recently introduced penalties for using mobile phones while driving. My own opinion regarding drunks, which has been formed after living close to several of these, with of course close observation of their behaviour over many years. I couldn’t help but notice their regular pattern of returning home after a night out, often so drunk that on arrival home, they just fell out of their vehicle. There they lay on the ground, until one of their family took pity on them, assisted them inside or just covered them where they lay. This wasn’t just a ‘One off’ observation in Queenstown. There, three of our immediate neighbours were all hard drinkers and chronic alcoholics. On a regular basis they drove home drunk, always arriving home without incident. The only difference that when drunk, they drove very slowly, and very carefully. We only employed a couple of police in our town back in those days. Their policy then was, they only seemed to react to any situation was when complaints were actually laid.


However we had another immature group of young folk who were also paid up members of the boozing fraternity. These were mainly the young and stupid, and recent recipients of driving licences. They unfortunately hadn’t matured enough to exercise any judgment or restraint on their behaviour. As well, they thought that they were bullet proof. Unfortunately they were a danger to themselves, and all other road users. I remember John Guthrie another Queenstown resident once telling me, that he was brought up in the Balclutha. This was an area at the time that was enjoying the fruits of very high wool prices. All sheep farmers in the area were ‘Loaded’ with large sums of discretionary spending money. They tended to indulge their children and family with expensive gifts, namely high performance Motor Vehicles. He said he was shocked when he looked at his high School Class photo, half of his fellow students had been killed or injured in motor accidents.


In my opinion the main reason of today’s lower Road Deaths is that cars of today are now better engineered, all fitted with Air Bags. The Road’s Board too is slowly but surely improving our highways, as well making more passing lanes which makes it safer for those who just have to be in the front, and will pass any and every vehicle on the road. I also feel that the authorities could reduce the death by motor car accidents by a factor of 5o% if they paid more attention to the wearing of seat belts. Hardly a day goes past when you read of young folk being killed on the road by he not donning their seat belts. I can only assume this, as the ones being killed are always the ones who have been tossed out of their car.



A factor that reinforced this theory was when Marilyn Maxwell recently drove into the path of the Excursion Rail Train at Hyde which completely chewed up her vehicle, to surprised observers she was able to step out of the wreckage unharmed. The she said was due to a safely engineered vehicle and air bags.


Give the local bodies a pot of paint and you never know just where they will stop. I drive down Papanui Road every day, it has now been reduced to a narrow lane each way. A lane on each side a metre of so wide has been painted red, this is very seldom used and set aside for cyclists. Then another green lane on each side of the road painted green has been set aside as a dedicated Bus Lane. This now only leaves a narrow strip for the motorist who is paying for the road in the first place. As well they have placed additional hazards of islands all guarded with metal hoops at regular intervals along the route. They are hard to see in times of poor visibility and many motorists are finding this so as many mornings I note that they have been struck by motorists overnight and broken off. Their existence must delight panel beaters.



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