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346 posts

Ultimate Geek
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Topic # 152451 26-Sep-2014 22:45
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After spending the past month driving across the USA and thru 12 states, I've recently returned and alarmed at the comparison between drivers in the USA vs NZ.

A short trip on a Auckland motorway highlights the state of driving in NZ and the lack of courtesy which NZ drivers have towards each other.

It begs the question, why are our Police so focused on speed when dangerous driving doesn't even seem to get a look in. We are so very different to other countries who don't place sole focus on speed, but also have a large focus on dangerous driving.

A quick trip on NZ roads this week:

Why do NZ drivers feel the need to drive at considerably less than the posted speed limit in the far right lane while the left lanes remain empty?
Our left hand lanes remain vacant, just take a look at night...

Why when attempting to pass, does a driver in the left lane suddenly increase speed to match?

Why do trucks attempt to pass each other at speeds almost the same when a passing lane becomes available, only to hold up every other road user?


Travelling across the USA quickly highlighted:

Every driver remains clear of fast lanes unless passing, and if they do happen to be in the fast lane they promptly change lanes to allow others to pass.

Trucks remain in non passing lanes, often with hazard lights flashing to indicate they are travelling at a slow speed.

When indicating, its not unusual for other drivers to slow to allow you to turn or change lanes (the opposite to NZ where drivers increase speed to close a gap).


Just my two cents, a shame that our Police force do not place the same focus on safe driving as they do on speed. 

Rant over.




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Ultimate Geek
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  Reply # 1138534 26-Sep-2014 23:08
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I think it might be a matter of attitudes of drivers as well, most of my driving is spent commuting to the city, normally 30-60 minutes each way. Sitting in traffic can be very frustrating for me and I suspect is the case for a lot of other drivers also, so I try to keep calm by playing relaxing music and being considerate and passive/non-aggressive  to other drivers, making space if the are changing lanes, keeping a reasonable following distance, etc, it makes me feel more positive and I hope it would for the other driver(s) also. If people stopped treating it like a competition to get home 30s quicker everyday I think the daily commute would be a lot safer and pleasant experience for everyone.





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  Reply # 1138543 27-Sep-2014 00:29
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I noticed many of the same things, and more, after spending a couple of years on the road in the UK\Europe a few years ago. :/

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  Reply # 1138547 27-Sep-2014 01:58
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AFAIK - in the USA there is a law that says that if you indicate correctly and then change lanes it is the other drivers fault if the don't make room for you and a crash happens - was told this by a friend so might not be true.

Almost all other countries have laws that say that the fast lane can only be used for overtaking. And that you are not allowed to overtake on the left.

Due to the constant focus on speed, trucks have to overtake eachover slowly. Also some have a max legal speed of 90K/hr While others can drive at 100K/hr. So lots of slow overtaking. And having a close following distance in rush hour traffic discourages excessive lane changing. As excessive lane changing on congested motorways really stuffs up the traffic flow. Makes the difference between constant stop start and continuous flow. Normally those who leave stupidly big gaps in congested traffic leave the same gap when traffic speeds up. Which means the big gap at 15K/hr is now tailgating at 80K/hr.

But nothing is going to change until the Govt grows some balls and introduces mandatory practical driving tests every 10 years. I still remember getting my full licence when I was still 16 and thinking "I don't need to do another practical driving test for at least 50 years". But the chances of the govt actually doing that are almost 0. Remember all of the complaints when the photo drivers licence system got introduced. From people saying "the govt shouldn't be allowed to take my lifetime licence away from me". BTW I Went through the licence system only a couple of years or so after the photo licence system started.





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  Reply # 1138560 27-Sep-2014 06:20
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I've always driven around NZ like every other person on the road is a drongo out to get me saved my life many times over the years if everyone drove like that we'd see alot less accidents caused by stupidity  

Mad Scientist
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  Reply # 1138562 27-Sep-2014 07:21
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Wow didn't realise that!

Here's my new thinking

Usa > nz >> Russia

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  Reply # 1138566 27-Sep-2014 07:37
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I agree. Its important to drive fast, so you get to your destination 3 minutes early on your 60 minute trip. Motorways are in fact raceways, again get there 3 minutes sooner.

Ive been to the US 8 times, for a month or more each time, driven a lot. On freeways or interstates, they all drive at the same speed, you see that on TV. I was in SFO CBD, at a red light, 2 cars from the intersection. Wrong lane, needed to turn right, dang. Indicated to turn right, I was let in, just like that. I expect that there, considerate.

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Ultimate Geek
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  Reply # 1138567 27-Sep-2014 07:51
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On and off ramps are too short and frequent. I drive sixty K a year. I've seen it all I think now.

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  Reply # 1138582 27-Sep-2014 08:07
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Those good driving behaviours in the States ... wasn't in New York or Vegas or LA were they? Coz you're comparing to akl / chch.

I thought Wellington drivers were extremely considerate. Indicate = let in. Cyclists share a half lane road with cars trucks and parked cars

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  Reply # 1138589 27-Sep-2014 08:25
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Maybe this is why? ha ha, saw this when driving towards Washington.





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  Reply # 1138591 27-Sep-2014 08:31
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Fabian: Maybe this is why? ha ha, saw this when driving towards Washington.






Used to be done here many years ago

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  Reply # 1138604 27-Sep-2014 08:59
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It's hard to directly compare US freeway driving with NZ city, rural driving.

Generally US interstates, State highways, right down to county level main roads are built to high, common standards ( whether or not they've been maintained after that's another issue).

It's easier to drive on roads when you can expect all interchanges, corners, merge lengths to be about the same..

At state level there are some important differences in driving codes, things like right turns on reds, courtesy stops (4 ways) distracted driving rules etc can really catch you out.

There are a lot of state/provincial level ideas I like..
Turning traffic treating some red lights as a 'stop', 'stale green' signalling, pre warning of lights changing ahead, courtesy stops, are all good in the context of us style driving.

With the design and construction of NZ roading being as it is I don't know how much use that stuff would be here.
May just add an extra level of complexity and cause confusion.


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Ultimate Geek
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  Reply # 1138606 27-Sep-2014 09:04
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Drove through 23 states across the US - I don't think it is really a fair comparison US vs NZ highways. The US has pretty much 4 lane interstates in ever direction in almost ever State. You just set your cruise control and go for hours - till you get hungry or need fuel for the car. The only areas you get congestion is the cities - but a lot of the cities you can just take the interstate around it.

NZ is more like Canada. Drove across Canada 6 times - 4 lanes near the big cities...after that 2 lanes. In Ontario you get stuck behind a 18 wheeler and the speed limit is 90km/h in Northern Ontario (probably because of all the Moose). For some dumbass reason, they have the passing lanes on the downhill (wth!). 18 wheelers speed up and you can't pass them unless you do 110 or 125km/h.

Driving across the US is pretty nice. If you ever get to drive in the US and have an interest in the bears - I suggest getting a CB radio installed in the vehicle. Truckers (Drivers) are always chatting about their bears - bear in the middle at the 28 mile, bear at the 102 mile marker south, bear at the 48 mile marker heading south (or north, east, west), bear in the sky, Ghost bear (unmarked car) at w/e marker, cardboard bear at the 145 mile marker (Cardboard cutout of bear sitting in car). Also, very helpful about traffic condition or delays and how to avoid them.



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  Reply # 1138608 27-Sep-2014 09:13
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joker97: Those good driving behaviours in the States ... wasn't in New York or Vegas or LA were they? Coz you're comparing to akl / chch.

I thought Wellington drivers were extremely considerate. Indicate = let in. Cyclists share a half lane road with cars trucks and parked cars


Didn't drive much at all in NYC, nor in Vegas. Was in LA, SFO, DC I found it good. 

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  Reply # 1138615 27-Sep-2014 09:37
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gmball: 
Just my two cents, a shame that our Police force do not place the same focus on safe driving as they do on speed. 



Would like to know more about why you think our Police don't target dangerous driving. Considering how often they run campaigns specifically targeting unsafe lane changes, crossing the centre line and failure to stop at red lights/stop lines etc. The Police have previously run huge campaigns targeting unsafe driving leading to people accusing them of trying to meet quotas or ignoring 'more serious crimes'. Can't win either way.

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  Reply # 1138619 27-Sep-2014 09:43
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I spent 10 days driving in the usa and after driving there I was suprised how the pedestrian ruled. What I found out from a few americans.

1, In the usa people are afraid of getting sued. In nz there is a no at fault for personal injury, ACC protects you.
2, In the usa if you are in an accident which you were not at fault BUT you could have prevented it, you can get sued.


What I realised is that Kiwis have a god complex and we're all for one.

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