Watch: ‘You can’t fix stupid’
A Kiwi truck driver is sharing heart-stopping video of near-misses that he says he and his colleagues see daily - and he wants "bulletproof" motorists to pay attention.
Peter Hughes, who operates the New Zealand's Worst Drivers Facebook page, has over 17 years on our roads - and told the Herald that the problem is only getting worse, despite the Government's push for a road toll of zero.. The videos show drivers risking death by attempting risky, illegal overtaking manoeuvres and Hughes says they only represent a fraction of what truckies see every day. When the Herald spoke with Hughes this morning, pulled over in his truck at 9am, he had already had two near misses since he got on the road today, saying the potentially-fatal encounters were a "daily occurrence".
Hughes cast doubt on New Zealand's ability to reach a zero road toll, saying that while lowered speed limits and wire dividers were "great initiatives", the onus was on drivers to change their behaviour. "You can't fix stupid," he said, noting that lowered speed limits would not stop frustrated motorists from taking unnecessary risks to speed up their journey. "You're still going to get people who are impatient and can't seem to figure out that it's two minutes later, or dead."
Hughes was critical of the Kiwi perspective that driving was a right and not a privilege, saying our ego often outstrips our ability as drivers. He said everyone on our roads needs to "lose the tunnel vision" and be more aware of their surroundings. "There seems to be more of an entitled attitude," Hughes said, telling the Herald that motorists with that attitude would push the limits on the road "come hell or high water" and irrespective of any changes to road rules.
"People are always going to break the speed limit." He said that, in his personal experience, the rate of near misses had increased - which he put down to some having a "bulletproof mentality" when they got behind the wheel. Hughes told the Herald that foreign drivers were often incorrectly blamed for our high crash rate and said the problem was much closer to home.
He highlighted city-dwellers who took their motorway driving habits to narrow rural roads, saying that, without a centre divider, some seemed to "lose their minds". He said motorists needed to understand that trucks couldn't easily take evasive action and drivers were trained to "hold the line" and reduce speed to prevent a potentially worse situation if the truck tipped. He said that he had been fortunate not to have been involved personally in any fatal accidents, but had been first on the scene of a fatal crash and said the experience "doesn't leave your head for a while".
He implored anyone driving on our roads to pay attention to their surroundings, have respect for other drivers, and be aware of the consequences of a collision with a truck, because "there's only going to be one option".
- By Chris Marriner