OPINION: District councillor Mark Alexander writes about poor driving and what needs to change
As I travel around the district, I regularly see drivers ignoring stop signs, red traffic lights, speeding, following too close and so on. So what you might think? It doesn’t matter, no harm done.
Familiarity does seem to breed contempt. At many intersections, drivers are frequently able to ignore the stop sign, slowing not stopping before entering the intersection or not even slowing. Generally it isn’t visiting drivers who are at fault. It is our local drivers, ourselves, our family and our neighbours who are regularly putting themselves and others at risk.
Individually, we may get away with our bad driving habits, but collectively our community doesn’t. We have a terrible rate of intersection crashes. That’s crashes not accidents, as many are the result of poor driver choices rather than genuine accidents.
Poor driving costs our community. Many of the emergency service personnel who attend road crashes in our district are volunteers. Those volunteers take time off from their own lives, their jobs, their families to help others in their time of need. We should acknowledge their selfless dedication to our community. We should recognise that preventable crashes have an impact on the lives of our volunteers in the community.
As a district councillor, I am often asked “what is the district council going to do about a perceived accident black spot?” Where there is a genuine road safety issue, the district council will address the problem. It is hard, if not impossible, to provide an engineering solution for bad driving and bad drivers.
I can see the letters to the editor saying that it isn’t the driver’s fault, that it is the state of our roads, the design of our intersections, the width of our roads and possibly the weather. I agree that our roads may not be perfect, but that’s not an excuse for bad driving.
Driving to the conditions will help with many of these issues. Speed limits are not targets. Allowing more time for your journey will mean you can drive to the conditions not the limits. Stopping at stop signs won’t significantly delay your journey. Planning to drive safely will benefit everyone.