Opinion: If you want to cut the road toll, stop driving like idiots

OPINION: There is always one fact missing when New Zealand's horrific road toll is talked about, and that is a large number of Kiwis turn into idiots when they get behind the wheel of a car.

New Zealand's road toll for 2018 was the worst in a decade. As the year closed the toll stood at 380 - one up on last year.

It is one of the worst tolls in the developed world.

It isn't getting better and it won't until Kiwis wake up to some home truths about their driving.

Opinion: If you want to cut the road toll, stop driving like idiots
Photo credit: Newshub

Something happens to New Zealanders when they get in to their car, turn the engine on and head off on the open road.

The people who pride themselves on being easy-going and laid back turn into crazed, impatient and reckless drivers.

Not all of them, but enough to make the roads far more hazardous than they should be.

I see it every day on my commute across the Auckland Harbour Bridge into town.

Drivers lane-hopping because the traffic is going too slowly. People driving far too close to the car in front. Drivers not letting other drivers in if they need to change lanes. People using phones. Drivers speeding. I could go on. 

Head out of town and the volume of cars on the road decreases, but the number of idiots driving doesn't. There are drivers itching to get past you because you are driving at the speed limit.

My favourite is the driver who overtakes you at the very end of the passing lane - so he can get one car ahead.

Last year we saw countless stories in the media of close shaves on the road recorded on dashcams. Drivers overtaking where it was obvious to anyone with half a brain it was too dangerous attempt it.

The police often cite three major reasons for the high number of crashes on New Zealand's roads: people not buckling up, drivers speeding and driving while impaired from alcohol or drugs.

All those things have one thing in common. They're all decisions drivers are making.

It's not the state of the roads, or the cars or the conditions - it is drivers making crazy decisions.

If we really want to cut the road toll, Kiwis need to look at the way they are driving and be less impatient and more considerate.

Here's some advice to drivers who constantly flout the road rules and add to New Zealand's shocking road toll statistics.

Opinion: If you want to cut the road toll, stop driving like idiots

The speed limit 


The speed limit exists to make the road safer for everyone. A person who is a lot more knowledgeable about the topic than you has decided it is the safest speed for drivers to travel on that stretch of road.

They haven't done it to frustrate you or annoy you, and it's not the 'nanny state' imposing too many rules. The chances of a fatal crash happening go up the faster you drive.

If you speed, you are endangering the lives of everyone on the road with you. And don't get me started on people who speed on residential streets. 

Driving while impaired 


Whatever you might think, driving while under the influence of either alcohol or drugs does not make you a better driver. It turns you into a fatal crash waiting to happen.

You can't drive safely while drunk or drugged up, so don't pretend you can.

Opinion: If you want to cut the road toll, stop driving like idiots

Driving too close 


Outside of speeding and drunk-driving, this is one of the most dangerous things you can do behind the wheel.

If you think the car in front of you is going too slowly, don't get pissed off and drive as close to his bumper as you can get.

It achieves nothing aside from putting both your lives at risk.

Road rage


There is nothing more frustrating than being stuck in traffic, but there is nothing you can do about it. Just calm down, relax and wait for it to clear.

You will live a longer, healthier life if you don't lose it every time the traffic slows down.

Mark Longley is the managing editor of Newshub digital.