David Williams: Politicians need to make our roads safer


OPINION: It wasn’t the relaxing skifield road trip I’d envisaged.

Ahead of me on The Remarkables access road the small rental car swept wide, over the centre line, on blind corners.

I beeped my horn and motioned to the left. The car pulled over.

But when it resumed its journey behind me the line-crossing continued.

Having been in a crash with a foreign driver earlier this year I couldn’t let that behaviour carry on.

I stopped my car and motioned for the driver – he was Asian, which I mention as a fact, not to feed prejudices – to stop.

The passenger’s window wound down.

“You can NOT cross the centre line. You HAVE to keep left. It is not SAFE to cross the line.”

There were two young kids in the back of the car. The female passenger in the front pointed at my phone, which had dropped on the road.

I got back into my car, expecting an angry spray from the waiting NZSki bus driver.

Instead the bloke nodded and smiled. I guess he’d seen a middle-of-the-road lecture before.

As I wound up the mountain, my pulse returning to normal, I felt angry and let down.

I applaud extra road arrows being painted, messages in different languages on steering wheel stickers and publicity about New Zealand’s difficult driving conditions.

But someone should be protecting us better.

Why should it be down to me to pull over a foreign driver and explain the rules?

You could throw mud at rental car companies but they’re just operating within the law.

And police can’t be everywhere at once.

Which leads me to lawmakers.

I’ve heard no excuses that wash for the government choosing not to do more about foreign drivers.

It’s ignored petitions asking for a test. Ministers spout statistics – saying the percentage of accidents have not gone up, but the number of visitors have.

Start talking statistics with those who regularly ply the Kawarau Gorge and Crown Range Road –¬†even The Remarkables skifield road – and you’ll get laughed at. Or abused.

Governments make laws to¬†protect citizens. But now they’re leaving some road policing to those citizens.

It’s not good enough.

But maybe the weakness crosses party lines. It’s time for the opposition parties to announce what they would do.