Tuesday, September 19, 2023

John MacDonald: Raising the driving age isn't the answer

An absolute tragedy over the weekend, with an 18-year-old dying yesterday morning after the car she was in crashed into the side of a house in Rangiora.

They’d been at an illegal street racing event and when the police turned-up just before a-quarter-to-five, the driver took off and ended up crashing.

They started following but gave up after a while because of the way the car was being driven and because they got into a built-up area.

Not long after that, it seems, the driver lost control and crashed.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, boy racers are here to stay. The last time I said it, was about three weeks ago when the people at Orana Park were in the news saying that boy racers were causing mayhem for their animals.

Because MacLean's Island is one of the spots the boy racers have these burn-out events. And all the revving and screeching of tyres have had some of the animals so freaked out that they’ve panicked and they’ve been running around their enclosures and getting injured. There have been some serious cuts and bruises going on.

So, last time we talked about it, it was all about the animals. Today, we’re talking about it, because an 18-year-old woman has lost her life.

The car she was in had been at a burn-out session at Fernside. There, MacLean's Island, and West Melton are the three main areas where these things happen. That’s because, years ago, the city council brought in the anti-cruising rules. Which effectively shifted the problem from the city out to the semi-rural areas.

Although there are still parts of town where they congregate.

Either way, the problem’s still here. And I don’t see it changing much, either.

But if I had to come up with one thing that I thought might remotely make a difference, it would be raising the age people can get their licence.

Years ago it used to be15. Now it’s 16 and there is the staggered process: Learner, Restricted and Full. But what if it went up to 18? Or even 20?

That could possibly make some difference. But I reckon there’d be such an uproar that it would never happen. That’s because we seem to think here in New Zealand that driving a car is a human right. Not a privilege. Some people seem to think it’s a human right.

And if you raise the driving age, it ignores all the brilliant young people out there who don’t do burnouts. Who don’t scream off when the cops ask them to stop.

It also assumes that, even by the time someone turns 20, they’re going to be all sensible on it.

Well, they’re not. If you were really going to go hardcore and raise the driving age to try and prevent this sort of thing, you’d have to put limitations on people right up to about the age of about 25.

Because, apparently, that’s when people’s brains - especially men - become capable of making sensible decisions.

Unlike the person driving the car involved in the crash yesterday morning - an 18-year-old guy - who allegedly took-off from the police in a car that had a pink sticker on it. Which means that it shouldn’t have even been on the road.

A pink sticker goes on any vehicle that’s been ordered off the road because it’s considered too unsafe to be driven. And it can’t go on the road until it’s been re-checked and gets a warrant of fitness.

The tragic irony in all this is that it was only Saturday - two days ago - when the New Zealand Herald ran quite a lengthy story about the boy racer problem here in Canterbury.

And it said in the story that Canterbury is the only region that has a dedicated anti-boy racer police unit. Officially it’s called the “Anti-Social Road User Squad”. And it involves police staff who have some sort of background in cars.

They were described in the story as being passionate about what they do. And, apparently, cops all around the country get in touch to get advice from them on how to deal with boy racers.

But even then, having this special anti-boy racer police unit, didn’t prevent what happened yesterday morning in Rangiora. And now, the 18-year-old driver is facing a court appearance tomorrow and the family and friends of the woman killed are dealing with an enormous loss.

John MacDonald is the Canterbury Mornings host on Newstalk ZB Christchurch. This article was first published HERE


Anonymous said...

While it's a tragedy for the families, for the rest of us it represents an increase in life expectancy.

John S said...

Makes you wonder why the simplest solutions for these idiots are the hardest to implement. Just impound their vehicles for a period of time dependent on the level of their drivers' idiocy. Hit them with a meaningful fine which upon payment, they get their vehicles back. Stuff the do-gooders who think education and individual rights are more important. Crusher was on the right track until woke intervened.