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  Reply # 1144493 30-Sep-2014 20:06
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The good thing about small cars is that they are easy to push off the road ;) 


Have to catch me first!! ;-)

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  Reply # 1144501 30-Sep-2014 20:20
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DravidDavid:
Elpie: I'd love to see NZ switch to the right like most of the rest of the world. Other countries have managed to switch without too much trouble so I don't see why we don't. 


How could we possibly benefit from that?  Apart from it being easier to get around in the Challenger, haha :)  I'm with Jeremy Clarkson on this one...It is we that are in-fact driving on the right side of the road!


Every year we have foreigners killing people on our roads. Over 75% of the world drives on the other side so for NZ tourism switching sides would be better. 
NZ is still relatively small with relatively few cars on the road. Switching sooner rather than later makes sense. It would also give us access to more models of cars, and (depending on how NZ taxed imports) potentially cheaper cars. Manufacturers build only a small number of left-hand drive models so economies of scale are there for right-hand drive vehicles, not so much for our lefties. Importing our own cars would be easier too.

Canada, Italy, and Spain changed to right-side driving in the 1920s. Most of Eastern Europe changed in the ’30s. Scandinavia waited until the 1960s, but its countries eventually changed to the right, too. Things got interesting in colonial countries, especially in Africa. France had long been a right-side country and Britain a left-side country, so their colonies usually followed suit. But when they became independent, many sought to normalize with their neighbors to make things easier. Today, most African countries drive on the right.


There are significant infrastructure costs, I'll grant you that, but Samoa proved that given enough planning it's not so painful. 

 
 
 
 


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  Reply # 1144571 30-Sep-2014 22:21
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Elpie:

Every year we have foreigners killing people on our roads. Over 75% of the world drives on the other side so for NZ tourism switching sides would be better. 
NZ is still relatively small with relatively few cars on the road. Switching sooner rather than later makes sense. It would also give us access to more models of cars, and (depending on how NZ taxed imports) potentially cheaper cars. Manufacturers build only a small number of left-hand drive models so economies of scale are there for right-hand drive vehicles, not so much for our lefties. Importing our own cars would be easier too.
 


India, Japan, about a third of the African continent, Indonesia, Australia and the UK all drive on the left. Also, Samoa switched to driving on the left. You cut off that heavily subsidised Japanese grey market and you're stuck with buying from the US or China.

It's something like approaching 2bn of the population of the world live in countries where they drive on the left. That's a huge market to buy cars from. In order to drive on the other side of the road, you'd have to have 3m Kiwis drive around with impaired visibility until they can afford new cars. It's not like Samoa where only 7% of the population have cars, and that population is really low. 70% of NZers have a car.

Also, I bet you that as a percentage, Kiwis are much better at killing each other on the roads than tourists are. It's not tourists driving on the wrong side of the road that consistently kills people. It's NZers being aggressive, impatient, discourteous drivers.

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  Reply # 1144577 30-Sep-2014 22:38
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I drove across the states and interstate driving is very different to SH1 with it's infrequent passing lanes and difficult terrain. I'm not sure it is fair to compare.

But, there is awful driving in this country for sure.

Here are 3 annoyances.

Not keeping to the right when turning right thereby blocking off left turning cars . This woman does it twice so is a repeat offender. Sorry ladies, it is usually you who do this , maybe it is a spatial awareness thing?



General selfishness. This driver initially appears courteous by letting someone turn in stationary traffic but....




Taking needless risks. Why did they need to do this??? They maybe saved a few seconds. (the wide angle cam makes things look further away, this was very close).




2 other big annoyances:: women who must do their hair and makeup before leaving supermarket carparks, and people who do not signal at roundabouts.

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  Reply # 1144638 1-Oct-2014 08:59
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surfisup1000:




This is incredible, I'd be taking this to the police.  Totally reckless!  Far beyond annoying driving! :(





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  Reply # 1144713 1-Oct-2014 11:13
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surfisup1000: 

Taking needless risks. Why did they need to do this??? They maybe saved a few seconds. (the wide angle cam makes things look further away, this was very close).


Wow... just wow. yeah, agree with the above. I'd pass that one by the zoo on to the police!!

(Sadly I've seen similar things fairly often)

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  Reply # 1144730 1-Oct-2014 11:43
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Elpie:

NZ is still relatively small with relatively few cars on the road. Switching sooner rather than later makes sense. ...

There are significant infrastructure costs, I'll grant you that, but Samoa proved that given enough planning it's not so painful. 


Actually, relatively speaking NZ has many cars on the road. We have the 3rd highest car ownership and 2nd highest vehicle km travelled per person stats for OECD.

It would make sense to switch if *everyone* (including Japan and India) switched, but otherwise, I don't see it as a good idea.

I don't think Samoa (2001, total road length 2337km, no motorways) is a good comparison to NZ (2009, 93,000km, 172km)... Apia has about the same population as Wanganui. Think about every motorway on or off-ramp... similarly all the lane markings at all the intersections in all the cities. they're all facing the wrong way if you switch sides.

One of the African countries (Ghana?) switched sides some years ago too... when they did, they closed *all* the roads for an entire day while all the signage and so on was changed around. Can you imagine closing all NZ's roads for a day? Or more? I can't believe that all the road arrows and so on could be repainted in 24 hours.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dagen_H briefly covers how Sweden switched back to RH traffic in 1967, and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/730_%28transport%29 covers the Okinawa switch to LH traffic in 1978. I suggest that changing NZ in 2014 (or later) would be a great deal more chaotic.

An interesting side-effect is foot traffic, which more or less follows road traffic rules.  Doors and escalators would presumably also need to be switched over.



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  Reply # 1144817 1-Oct-2014 13:31
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Ok this is going to be a lengthy post.

I don't want to come across cocky in the sense that I feel I'm the world's greatest driver but I have a substantial amount of driving experience in various countries, LHD as well as RHD which I would like to share below and apply my view on driving in NZ.

To stick to the starting subject

United States
Been over there about 10 times on separate business trips and holidays. Driven in NY, NJ, DE, MD, DC, PA, VA, TN, SC, GA, FL, CA, NV, UT, AZ
From the Florida swamps to NY's Long Island from the 8-lane multi-stack junctions in downtown LA to the hilly tram ridden city centre of SF to the back roads of Utah.
The US is such a huge and diverse place that it is hard to summarise any sort of experience but they do have one thing in common; drivers are generally extremely courteous.
1) people tend to stick to the speed limit+10mph and cops are fine with that.
2) overtaking is possible from any side but people will move if they can
3) right turn on red, albeit confusing (depending on which state you're in) really helps traffic flow
4) the fact that nearly everyone drives an automatic makes the flow of traffic MUCH better than in Europe
5) the road quality even in remote areas is generally very good and with the 2x2 or 2x3 interstates make up for a very comfortable long-distance driving experience
Even in places like LA where traffic can get horrendous I found it much less stressful to drive than in Europe.
I assume it's common knowledge that "undertaking" does not exist in the US as you are allowed to pass from whichever side you please.
On the majority of US roads I have driven with my cruise control set to 60~70mph where applicable 80mph and you just go with the flow, very easy driving.

I feel that NZ could quite possibly adapt a "turn left on red" rule if it was carefully legislated.

United Kingdom
I've lived here for five years and gained most of my "driving on the left" experience here.
Generally the Brits are very courteous drivers as well, especially the older generation, but the "white van men" / tradies regularly display some appalling driving.
My biggest frustrations here are:
1) queue jumping (i.e. making it appear as if you're leaving the motorway driving down to the far end of the slip road then merging back into traffic)
2) middle lane hoggers (people that make no effort to move to the left even if there is no traffic at all, it seems they think the left lane has some kind of awful disease)
3) people driving with their headlights off at dusk/dawn (in the UK most people feel that if the street lights are off they don't need their car's lights which can cause some near-misses especially in country lanes where you cannot distinguish a dark green Land Rover from the bushes hedges in the surroundings)

The "keep left unless overtaking" rule has recently been emphasised by The Highways Agency because middle lane hogging is taking a monstrous shape on the British roads, certainly on the M25.
Also see this article: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-22784983
It clearly explains what is wrong with sticking to the middle lane when the left is clear.
In the UK "undertaking" is frowned upon but not illegal. When people hog the fast lane or middle lane for a long time I do tend to undertake them and they usually recognise their stupidity and then move back into a slower lane.

I tend to merge onto the motorway and set my cruise control to 134km/h (70mph = 112kmh is the legal limit, cops tolerate 10mph over the limit makes it 80mph = 128kmh plus correction for my car's speedometer) and generally move from the middle lane into the fast lane as and when necessary and if the slow lane is clear I will move into that.

The Netherlands
My home country where I was brought up and drove for nearly 10 years (on the right for those that don't know) before moving to the UK. With 17 million people living in a place the size of Waikato the Dutch motorways are extremely congested and it is very very difficult to keep a safe distance. Forget about the 2-second rule, if you attempt to keep 2 seconds you will never get home. Dutch drivers will merge with 0.5 seconds in between cars and generally won't indicate or only indicate for a second then switch the indicator back off. Even more so when you approach with 120km/h and attempt to overtake a truck some maniac will feel the need to move into your lane 50 meters before you're alongside of them.

The majority of Dutch drivers do tend to drive with their headlights on 90% of the time, following Scandinavian example which greatly improves visibility. I would love for NZ drivers to follow this example, especially in rural areas it would improve the visibility of cars so much.

Undertaking is strictly prohibited and fines can be issued up to NZ$600 for the offence.

France
In France the driving discipline is generally OK (Paris excepted). Most route nationale (single carriageway/national road) roads have 100km/h speed limits just like NZ. Motorways are either 110 or 130.
When overtaking on the French motorways (autoroutes), French drivers will:
- switch on their indicator
- move from the slow lane into the fast lane
- overtake the vehicle (keeping the indicator on)
- return to the slow lane
- then turn their indicator off

Because they keep their indicators on at all times whilst overtaking it is very clear when a vehicle wants to pass and it also emphasises not to be in the fast lane when there is no need.
This could be helpful in NZ unless you are in very congested stretches where clearing the fast lane is not possible.

Driving in Paris is a whole different level
My greatest driving experience in France must have been taking my first (crap) car into Paris and driving it around 6-lane roundabouts whilst honking and giving the finger to the other drivers. Everybody does it.
Especially around the Arc de Triomph where there are six lanes, no lights and no markings.
Also, if a parking space is not big enough, it is common to carefully push your bumper up against the car in front (or behind) you and push them about until the space is big enough for you to fit in.



Germany
In my opinion Germany really sets the standard for motorway driving and their rules should be implemented worldwide. After the basic driving lessons, young German learner drivers are taken onto the autobahn with some very clear instructions.
1) don't ever - EVER move into the fast lane without checking your mirrors three times and then indicating
2) don't ever - EVER overtake a vehicle from the right (undertaking)
3) after you have done your business in the fast lane, move back to the right (into the middle/slow lane)

By sticking to this regime very clearly the fast lane is clear the majority of times allowing people to drive much faster than in any other country.
Needless to say this would never work in NZ not just because of congestion but more so because of the lack of straight road to motorway standards although the driving habit of keeping the fast lane clear would be very welcome.

I typically set my cruise control to 160kmh in Germany but pull up to 180 in stretches where possible. I have gone faster but don't like it as the fuel consumption is a pain, especially on long distances.
Because of the speeds on the autobahn it is LETHAL to overtake a vehicle from an unexpected angle, therefore undertaking is a very serious offence, highly penalised and if another German driver sees you doing it they are very likely to flash their lights or honk at you.

Sweden
Driving in Scandinavia is a blessing and one of the most quiet experiences of driving you can have in Europe, equally as much in Norway although I have not spent as much time there, Norwegians and Danes tend to drive a bit quicker/more assertive than Swedes. Most Swedes roll around cruising their Volvo/Saab estates at sluggish paces and keep ample distance.
The best thing about Swedish driving on single carriageways is the following.
- if you come up to a slow driver such as a truck or caravan;
- they will look if the road ahead for you is clear to pass, and if so;
- they will indicate to the right, showing to you that you are ok to overtake

This allows for overtaking in situations where the driver themselves would never be able to assess the situation thereby improving traffic flow. I feel this rule would be very handy on some NZ State Highways.

Speed limits in Sweden have gone up to 120 in most places, Norway to 110 and Denmark to 130 on the majority of their roads. The road systems in these countries are VERY similar to NZ roads with many level crossings and single carriageways hence demonstrating that these speeds can be applied safely if done cautiously.

Two other huge benefits, again the permanent headlights during daytime and their 2+1 road system.
Basically the road changes every 3km or so from 2 lanes to 1. This system would be EXCELLENT for NZ's State Highways. It would allow you to overtake slow trucks and improve the flow of traffic. I have seen this system being trialled on a short stretch of express-way just south-west of Christchurch.

Other places
Most of Eastern Europe drives quite safe, although in Poland I have been overtaken by a drunk pensioner in a Soviet style car doing 130kmh in an 80 zone whilst drinking a bottle of wodka (this is not a joke)
Greece is fine outside of the cities but absolutely MANIC in Athens. Same as Paris, scooters every where, no lane discipline. Lots of honking and fingers. Same with Istanbul, Turkey although the finger is not tolerated there :)
In Italy people feel it's OK to drive three cars wide on a single lane roundabout. Spain is generally OK although the cities can be a bit dense. I have recently driven in Bosnia and Croatia and didn't feel they were any different from other southern/eastern countries. Last year we did a brief trip to Morocco and swerving around the horse/donkey carts, animals and mopeds is a huge problem but people tend to stop when they see you coming. This was my first driving experience on the African continent so I can tick that one off. Trust me, NZ is a whole lot safer than Morocco!

Australia and Canada are both quite safe can't say anything remarkable about either of them.
I've only driven about 4000km in New Zealand (North as well as the South Island) and I can't say that I've seen any extremely erratic behaviour.
I actually got pulled over by the cops in Taupo for trying to cross a yellow line on a State Highway.
(I was trying to get into a supermarket as we needed groceries, not knowing that it was illegal to turn across the opposite lane on a SH).
Policemen was very friendly and understood that as a tourist you may not be fully aware and let me off.

So to summarise (for those who got bored of reading my junk);
What I feel could benefit New Zealand:
- permanent headlights (also during daytime) (/or mandatory DRL) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daytime_running_lamp
- emphasise keep left unless passing
- add more 2+1 roads to SH in order to decrease frustration of impatient drivers behind trucks
- segregate road lanes with (concrete) barriers and reduce level junctions where possible on SH
- reduce speed limits on roads where 100kmh blanket is unacceptable (Coromandel would be a good place to start)
- increase speed limits on roads where 110kmh is possible (Waikato Expressway)

DRL example:


and







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  Reply # 1144833 1-Oct-2014 14:19
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ScuL: Ok this is going to be a lengthy post.


Lots of good insights here, thanks :)


Speed limits in Sweden have gone up to 120 in most places, Norway to 110 and Denmark to 130 on the majority of their roads. The road systems in these countries are VERY similar to NZ roads with many level crossings and single carriageways hence demonstrating that these speeds can be applied safely if done cautiously.


In Norway there are VERY few stretches of motorway where 110 km/h is the speed limit. I don't think any single lane roadways in Norway are more than 90 km/h and mostly it will be either 60, 70 or 80. Speed limits are set to the standard of the road. 

Here in NZ it seems like the speed limit is just set to 100 km/h outside of towns and cities, and 50 km/h inside of cities. No matter if the road is actually safe to drive at 100 km/h. Some of the mountain passes is a good example of places where it would probably be better to have lower speed limits, so people without enough sense don't end up killing themselves (and even worse, others).

One of the things that are very different from NZ in Norway is that you can drive on the motorway without having to drive through small towns on your way from one major city to another, which is a blessing. On long travels having to navigate through small towns and suddenly have to drive at 50 km/h is a drag here in NZ.




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  Reply # 1144844 1-Oct-2014 14:37
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ScuL:
I actually got pulled over by the cops in Taupo for trying to cross a yellow line on a State Highway.
(I was trying to get into a supermarket as we needed groceries, not knowing that it was illegal to turn across the opposite lane on a SH).
Policemen was very friendly and understood that as a tourist you may not be fully aware and let me off.




The Yellow line relates to passing. It is not illegal to cross it if you are turning into a driveway however they are normally in areas with reduced visibility so it may not be advisable. If the cop had wanted to charge you he would have had to find another reason. Maybe there was a no right turn sign.

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  Reply # 1144893 1-Oct-2014 15:25
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ScuL: Ok this is going to be a lengthy post.



I've driven in most of those countries and the only time I felt unsafe was when I had a gun pulled on me in the Czech Republic as a pedestrian wanted to cross on our green light and also in Greece where there seemed to be an invisible third lane in the middle of the road.

If coming across a slower car in the fast lane in UK or EU a simple flash of the headlights once when approaching usually got them to move back to right lane.

And agree with the Arc de Triumphe in Paris, that is simply mental... you just point your hood emblem in the direction you want to go and take no prisoners - courtesy is a word that doesn't exist on that roundabout.

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  Reply # 1145460 2-Oct-2014 11:04
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jarledb:

In Norway there are VERY few stretches of motorway where 110 km/h is the speed limit. I don't think any single lane roadways in Norway are more than 90 km/h and mostly it will be either 60, 70 or 80. Speed limits are set to the standard of the road. 


This is true however, knowing that you have been away from Norway for some time - the new Norwegian government has actually proposed more 110km/h roads and even a 130km/h limit.
http://www.nrk.no/vestfold/prover-ut-110-km_t-i-vestfold-1.11401804
http://www.tv2.no/nyheter/politisk/regjeringen-vil-ha-opptil-130-kmt-paa-nye-motorveier-4133600.html
In most of Europe the speed limit is set to the road conditions..

jarledb:
Here in NZ it seems like the speed limit is just set to 100 km/h outside of towns and cities, and 50 km/h inside of cities. No matter if the road is actually safe to drive at 100km/h. Some of the mountain passes is a good example of places where it would probably be better to have lower speed limits, so people without enough sense don't end up killing themselves (and even worse, others).


and indeed as you correctly said, I feel the "blanket 100km/h" can be quite dangerous, especially in places where the road doesn't allow it, as people will try and achieve as close to 100km/h as they can get.
However the last time any organisation in NZ has claimed this the media (NZ Herald, Stuff, etc.) have headlined the article with "X proposes to raise speed limit to 110km/h" which resulted in a huge social media backlash.
If people read the article properly they would have seen that 90% of the proposal relates to bringing the speed limits DOWN to more reasonable levels where applicable (and a tiny section where 110 was proposed where possible, which is not in many places at all!)



also in Greece where there seemed to be an invisible third lane in the middle of the road.



Haha yes, I forgot that about Greece, people tend to use the centre of the road as a passing lane, even if it is not intended for it.. you see this a lot in Russia as well although (perhaps luckily) I have never driven there.






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  Reply # 1146242 3-Oct-2014 07:55
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A semi-trailer went off the Interstate and down a bank yesterday afternoon in heavy rain.  The truck took out a decent section of guardrail in the process.  This morning as I was driving back along the same stretch of road and the guard rail had been reinstated.  \

I was amazed at how fast it was repaired, as guard rail repairs usually seem to take a while back in NZ.

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  Reply # 1146441 3-Oct-2014 11:16
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Spent a year in the UK in 2010 and driving there is better than ours.

I put it down to many of the streets being very narrow, pre car in origin.

This means they _have_ to be more polite or chaos ensues, while in NZ our roads are wider and we get a sence of entitlement.

A.

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  Reply # 1146538 3-Oct-2014 12:23
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afe66:
This means they _have_ to be more polite or chaos ensues, while in NZ our roads are wider and we get a sence of entitlement.

A.


I just think it's about time that people realise when I'm behind them, I should be in front! :P

I revisited the road code this morning after being beeped at three times at three different round-a-bouts on my way to work today.  Their angry and impatient deminer had convinced me I had it wrong.

I'm not even sure if it was because I was giving way where I was supposed to, or not going fast enough for them.  Maybe it's because it is Friday?  I'm convinced the people that are having a bad day just take it out on their car and the road.





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