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It seems that when people want to sell something, they don’t usually put much effort into their ad. The prospective buyer is often presented with a “good car, runs well, as is, where is.” line of text on the page with only one photo which looks like it was taken with a toaster.

With the large amount of competition on-line and the mere fact that you have to pay a small amount to list it in the first place, you would think that sellers would try to make their item look as appealing as possible? You would think that… But unfortunately that is not the case.

I have gotten to the point now, where as soon as I see TXT speak, a poor description, badly taken photos, atrocious grammar and/or a complete lack of knowledge or disregard of the vehicle, I simply move on to the next one. How many potential buyers could you be losing out on, simply by putting together a shoddy ad? I bet that they would lose quite a lot!

So here is a list of “How” you should put together an Online ad for when you sell either your vehicle or anything else for that matter.

Grammar, spelling and layout:

First of all we will start with grammar. It can be very hard to read an online ad if you use incorrect grammar, some people choose to put a wall of text that seems like a maze of words and you keep on finding yourself at the beginning trying to make some sense of it and keep track of where you are at.

It also makes a big difference as to how you read the ad, it can change the context of the sentence and either confuse people or piss them off which leads to them giving up and going else where.

Spelling. This is crucial, if you don’t know the difference between “Break” and “Brake” how do I know that you even put the right part in your car when they needed to be replaced? When you can’t even spell the make and model of your car, then I begin to really start worrying.

Layout. Readers want clear and concise points so that they can see all of the information quickly and not have to search high and low for some small titbit that lies tucked away in amongst the jibber jabber contained in your ad.

Bullet points can help for the essential information which is easily referable and easy to read.

Description:

When you are looking at buying something, you want as much information as possible so that you can ascertain whether or not the vehicle is worth it. “Good car, runs well.”  simply doesn’t cut it. Put some effort into it, sit down for 10 – 20 minutes and write down what you would like to see in an ad.

A full description will include detailed paragraphs about the interior and exterior, mechanical condition and what you have done in regards to maintenance and repairs, how it drives (Does it pull to the left or right if it’s left to it’s own devices?), tyre wear, feel of the transmission (If it’s manual is it clunky or does it slip out of gear? If auto, does it lag when you change through the box?).

Just give me some kind of information about the car so that I can make an informed decision about it.

Pictures:

You should take photos of every side of the car, paying attention to any scrapes or dings. Take pictures of the interior (Please vacuum and tidy up first.) Do not take 10 pictures of the same thing from different zoom percentages, take pictures of the whole car and anything that you would like to see if you were looking at buying a car.

It also helps if you wash and polish your car first, if you show people that you take care of your car, then they will be more at ease with the thought if buying it. If I see a dirty and messy car, the first thing that I think is that it will be the same in the motor.

 

And most of all, be friendly, helpful and quick to answer questions.

That is but a very basic list on how to write an ad but if you want people to take your ad seriously, then this will at least help and will probably keep people looking through the ad instead of hitting the close button.

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Anti-speeding propaganda is everywhere, we are lead to believe that as soon as we travel 4km/h over the limit, we are more likely to be involved in an accident with the possibility of death. But this is not really the case and neither is it the largest cause of death on our roads. But of course you believe otherwise right? The Government has told you so and they must be right.

:The boy in the bubble:

If you are someone from the ‘older’ generation, you will notice this effect taking place. The large differences from when you were growing up and today, the Government has slowly but surely placed a blanket over our heads and tucked us into our beds so that we are not hurt by the big, bad world outside. It is now on the plan to make it onto our roads, the reach of full control for “our safety” is clasping it’s hands onto the way we drive and the text below will show this to you.

It is evident in everything from the “Anti-smacking bill” to the Life jackets, alcohol purchases, cycle helmets etc… where we are being rather mothered but here is something taken from the NZTA website, which purely scares me.

What would a Safe System free of death and serious injury look like?

We would enjoy a transport system where everyone expects a zero road toll. Roads and roadsides would encourage safe behaviour and be forgiving of human error by providing safety cues to users and protecting them from hazards.

Vehicle technology would communicate with the road environment and automatically adjust to appropriate speeds that respond to real-time road conditions.

Road users would understand and play their part in the system, with licensing dependent on a high level of skill. Alertness and compliance would, if necessary, be reinforced by in-vehicle technology(including alcohol and safety belt interlocks, and fatigue and speed monitoring).

Automated enforcement, including point-to-point (average speed) cameras and remote vehicle power down, could be used for high-risk road users.

Crash risk would be further reduced by advanced vehicle-to-vehicle warning systems (such as vehicle/pedestrian proximity warnings) and automatic collision avoidance technologies (including lane containment and emergency override features in the event a driver fails or is unable to respond to warnings).

If a crash is unavoidable, advanced airbags, crumple zones and head restraints would manage crash forces to levels the human body can tolerate.”

Now the text that I have made into bold is what sticks out to me.

1) Providing safety cues to users and protecting them from hazards.

While this is a good thing, especially for the unsuspecting motorist coming around a bend to find that it is also a sheep crossing, who can now slow down to a reasonable speed as well as trying to keep as much risk out of driving as possible. But what I take from this is the fact that road users will become too dependent on these cues and safety measures and they will soon come to rely on them to alert them to a potentially dangerous situation, and when the time comes and there is no sign there, the driver will be in a slight state of shock  and won’t know what to do in such a situation.

2) Automatically adjust to appropriate speeds.

So, the Government wants us to keep lower speeds so that there is a decrease in the severity of crashes on our roads. What does that mean when you are going around a corner at XXX speed and then your car/bike decides to slow down, immediately increasing the risk of crashing significantly. Or when you need to speed up to pass a car or get out of a sticky situation? Will there be a limit that needs to be reached till it comes on or does it play by ear?

Personally I don’t like the thought of having a computer do my thinking for me or having any control over me whatsoever.

3) (including alcohol and safety belt interlocks, and fatigue and speed monitoring).

Ok, I do agree with an alcohol monitoring system to gain access to your vehicle as well a some sort of fatigue test so that we don’t have idiots falling asleep at the wheel, but in saying that we should have the choice not to wear a seat-belt or leave them unclipped if we want to go for a drive. But what really gets me is the speed monitoring system,which is what is already taking place in some other countries. It is going to remove any freedom at all that we previously had and when the Police stop you for no reason in particular and then ask to search the pre-installed GPS tracker that is in your car and find that within the space of a week, you have gone over the limit X amount of times and proceed to write out fines left right and center.

4)  Emergency override features in the event a driver fails or is unable to respond to warnings.

This can be a good thing, there are two sides to the coin and while there is a positive side to this which is potentially saving the drivers life and also people around them which could also be harmed. There is also the fact that a computer is now going to be allowed full access to your car, ranging from steering, braking, acceleration and every other aspect that could be controlled and if there is a malfunction, you could be at serious risk if the car decides to do something stupid.

Another possibility of malfunction could be that the computer picks up false signals and therefore decides to react where in fact there is no danger what so ever or the driver has decided that what ever incident that is happening around them can be better avoided with another maneuver but the computer decides otherwise and then leads itself into a dangerous position.

We are now taking what control we had an putting it into a pre-determined computer system that falls in to place with what the Government thinks is best for us. Your whole life is soon going to be determined by what the Government thinks is best for you and the only way to escape it is to go and live out in a secluded mountain range and live off plants, though you will probably still have to pay a mountain tax anyway.

Instead of learning to think for ourselves and getting taught appropriate ways of dealing with situations, we are being put into diapers and placed into a harm-free environment where we are likely to turn into brain dead zombies, which is their goal I guess but nevertheless.

Speed, is it the real problem?

If you read the article I linked in the title, you will see what my view of speed is and what I think needs changing, but I will go a little more in-depth to it here as well as add some more points and information.

Some interesting statistics (Go to page 30) from the Government show that the majority of crashes and deaths are actually in the 50km/h speed limit areas. Wait a second, isn’t it at high speeds where we are likely to die? Or are they all speeding in the 50km/h zone and got injured or killed as a result? It seems unlikely to me, which brings me to the conclusion that it isn’t the really high speeds that are going to kill you, in fact they hold the lowest crash rates, but at speeds that are slow which can lead your mind to wander and then lead you on to not see that car turning or small child running out from behind that car and then it’s all over red rover.

Now, talking with people and also my flatmates I have also come up with some other thoughts about speed and it’s effect on us.

My flat mate had the idea that it’s not actually bad drivers that are causing the crashes on the road but simply for the fact that they are good drivers and have the knowledge but simply don’t bother absorbing all of the information around them and don’t drive to the conditions.

Now that is not only bad driving, but a phenomenally stupid idea.

Another one is that if you speed, you are most likely to lose control and kill yourself.

It is not really speed in itself that will cause the problem, but more so the lack of driver skill than anything. If speed was really the cause, there wouldn’t be any kind of motor sport because, hey, they are all going to die anyway.

It comes down to how well the driver can manipulate his/her vehicle and if they can use all of the information that the road provides us to keep to a safe speed.

Now when I talk about safe speeds, I am not referring to the speed limit set in place by the Government, but more so about the speeds that are safe to maintain traction, stability, line and an adequate stopping distance.

It is quite easy to safely speed throughout many roads and not cause any harm to anyone or kill yourself, but it all comes down to driver ability.

Have you tested the brakes on your car from both 50 and 100km/h to see how fast you can stop, or will you just learn it at the time? Have you tested the handling of the car, what will it take under duress in corners or a quick turn to get away from a dangerous situation?

I believe the biggest problem with the death toll in New Zealand is the ability to follow simple road rules. A Scandanavian report states that if every single road user were to follow the road rules, there would be a 50% drop in deaths. That is a large amount, but it can still be improved on. What if apart from just following the road rules, road users were seeking higher training to better their skills and were then better equipped to take on New Zealands roads when things got dicey.

Scandinavian research quote.

Advanced driver training:

Advanced driver training is a series of tests, lessons and classroom theory activities that provide the road user with a fresh look on their abilities, a wide range of new skills and the ability to drive or ride safely on every road that they come upon. We have a few training options in New Zealand, one of which is an international driver/rider training programme which follows more or less the Police Motorcycle handbook which the police use for their rider training programmes. It is called I.A.M (Institute of Advanced Motorists) and you can read more about the I.A.M here.

Riderskills Owner and Operater Phillip McDaid is the Chief Examiner for the IAM NZ and also runs courses for advanced rider skills among many other courses through his company. I have taken one of his courses for Confident Riding which is detailied in that link.

My belief is that every single road user should take at least one advanced course throughout each stage of the licensing process so as to give them the knowledge and skills to be able to use the road safely and therefore lower the road toll at the same time.

Now the courses would have to be heavily subsidised by the Government because many New Zealanders simply don’t have enough money to take such a course regularly but I think that any money spent on advanced training is well spent.

It would also deal with the speed issue at the same time, it teaches drivers/riders to adjust their speed accordingly to the road conditions and to be driving safely at every stage of their journey, to take in all of the knowledge of the surrounding environment and to be able to process that information in real time which is what a lot of drivers are hardly doing as it is.

So in addition to most people following the road rules which could drop the road toll by around 50%, with the addition of continuous advanced training, we could lower the road toll to near non-existent. It sounds a little far fetched when you think about it doesn’t it? I could imagine that it would be near impossible to drop it down that far because there are so many other factors in crashes as well but it would be a good sight closer to zero than what it is now and that is what we are aiming for isn’t it?

So in conclusion, it is not speeding that is the issue it has been made out to be. The government have been pushing the wrong message this whole time, and whether or not it has been to increase the number of speeding tickets they can issue or if it is really what they believe, we will never know for sure. But what we can know for sure is that speeding is hardly a cause for a crash, merely a factor that can play a big part. What we should be focussing on instead are the following issues:

  1. Drink driving
  2. Driver awareness and training
  3. Harder testing for licenses
  4. Harsher penalties for drunk drivers and drivers who have been in a crash of their own fault
  5. Distractions in the car (Music, cell phones, children etc…)
  6. Vehicle maintenance
  7. Complete knowledge of the road rules/standards

What would my plan be to achieve these ideas?

I think that the way to move forward would be to first take a look at our 3 stage system and it’s tests. Subjecting them to discussion from advanced riders/drivers and the NZTA and re-writing them so that they will show an actual skill level that is applicable for on the road.

Once the new tests have been introduced, bring in subsidised training from the government that is a compulsory requirement to achieve the next level of their license.

As well as having that applicable for the learning stages, it would be forced upon drivers who were at the cause of a crash (Possibly instead of a fine or with a reduced fine as well?) So that they learn why they crashed, what they could have done to prevent it and will therefore be safer drivers on the road.

Teach road users to be aware on the roads, they should be absorbing information about their surroundings, not about who had the seared Tuna salad for lunch.

Also as part of the licensing process would be basic maintenance knowledge, road users should be aware of how their car works and how to make sure all of the essential bits are functioning correctly, we as motorcyclists do it daily, from checking the Oil and water levels to checking chain tension, tyre wear, brake pad wear and anything else that we can remember to check before each ride.

Having a safe car is as important step to being a safe driver on the roads, as well as knowing the limits of your vehicle, from braking to swift direction changes which are often needed in heavy traffic.

And last but not least, a full knowledge of the road rules and how they work, possibly a re-test every now and then just to re-inforce the thought of the road rules. It could also be a part of each graduated license stage where the questions get harder and harder so as to re-enforce the idea in their heads.

Matt Wishart

Other blogs about speeding:

http://geoffjames.blogspot.co.nz/2011/01/speed-doesnt-kill-stupidity-kills.html

http://theage.drive.com.au/motor-news/speed-doesnt-kill-says-benz-20100304-pjin.html

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From a young age we are told that speeding is a big no-no, there are signs that hang high above the road telling us that speeding kills and the penalties for speeding can be generally quite ruthless. But is speeding the real problem or are we barking up the wrong tree? 

With the introduction of a 4km/h tolerance for speeding brought in for all public holidays throughout New Zealand, it has now sparked me to write a small piece on if we are focussing our efforts on the wrong campaign.

Now, in general, speeding can be dangerous and it can very quickly go wrong considering the speed difference of everyone around you. But, when we start to focus on fines for a mere 4km/h over the limit, are we getting a little pedantic or do you think it would actually make a difference in the road toll?

New Zealand Police have been praised with the lowest death tolls’ for the current year in history, funnily enough it is also when they rolled out the new tolerance and have now been laying praise on the tolerance instead of other factors such as higher driver awareness (from having police out left, right and center.) A lower rate of road users travelling on the road and also weather conditions for the recent public holidays which has been shocking for the whole summer, so drivers would be driving to the conditions instead of being in La-La land for most of the journey. 

One point I must make is that all drivers should be concentrating on the road and the changing conditions first and foremost, cars around them and other possibility’s such as small children, pets or objects.

But every public holiday it seems that all we are doing is spending more time looking at our speedometers than concentrating on anything else around us, simply because those who the government send out to gather revenue will gladly pull us over and fine us with a large smile on their faces and a pat on the back congratulating themselves for one less person who was going to die a horrible fiery death from being a few Km/s over the limit. Yes, the impending death that we are all going to face because we were focussing on our riding/driving more has now passed and we are $80 out of pocket.

In a country like Germany where you have the Autobahn and an unlimited speed limit there are a surprising lack of crashes. But hang on a second, increased speed means we are going to die? Why isn’t everyone there dead or severely injured?

It is because the one thing that speeding does do is bring upon a large increase in self awareness and an awareness of what is going on around you. At those speeds, you cannot just drive on auto-pilot like the majority of drivers do in our country. When you are tootling along at 50 – 100km/h many drivers simply decide to turn off and go with the flow, it isn’t a speed that really makes you sit up and take notice of your surroundings.

But when you are travelling at 120,130,140 or 240km/h your life depends on you making the right decisions at every moment. Hence why people travelling along at 100km/h down a one way motorway can then go on to have a 6 car pile up. (Honestly, how on Earth does that happen?) Apart from not following road rules where it states that you must keep enough space between you so as to safely stop with out hitting anybody, they are just not paying any attention to what is around them. Speeding, 167

Now in response to the high death toll, the powers that be decide to keep on lowering the speed limit on each road as they see fit, and I can imagine it will continually decrease until we are moving at walking pace and still getting fined.

So is speeding really the problem? I believe that it is but not at the approach that we tend to look at it. When you have drivers going 160km/h and the rest are going 100km/h there is a large room for error there and that is where the crashes are happening, but when you start to pull drivers over for 4km/h over the limit and then pat yourself on the back saying you did a good job, it just comes off as pathetic and a huge waste of taxpayer money on funding the time and media for such a pathetic and worthless cause.

We do need to focus on speeding, put at the people who are doing it dangerously, such as through public areas populated by children and other road users. Through back roads where there is not another soul around for miles (Apart from police) it shouldn’t be as policed and maybe a larger tolerance applied?

 

 

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To curb the issue of the high crash rate for young drivers in New Zealand, the powers that be have come up with a brilliantly idiotic idea on how to reduce the number of accidents…give them a small plate with an ‘R’ emblazoned upon it that is to be plastered on their windows.

There isn’t a mention of driver training, courses or anything else that could “actually” help the current poor state of driving, just a small patch. In all honesty, how is a small plate that make other road users aware of the skill level of the driver, going to make any difference in accidents at all when the majority of the crashes that the youth of New Zealand cause are their own fault in the first place.

“As well as causing 34 per cent of fatal crashes over the four years, high-risk drivers were also at fault in more than 60 per cent of late-night crashes.

Of teenage high-risk drivers involved in fatal crashes, 48 per cent had licence-related factors such as being disqualified or unlicensed, and 24 per cent were racing or evading police at the time of the crash.”

So what can we take from the information above? First off, most of them never had a license with them in the first place, and the rest were racing or trying to escape the cops. I fail to see how exactly an ‘R’ plate will help this at all? Or is this just another cash-grab campaign from the government because their funds are getting low and so they decided to target restricted drivers?

The government is merely trying to show that they are using our money to try and stop the high death-toll and crash rate of the young road users, but really, what they are doing is little over sadly pathetic. Instead of using the tax-payers money for something useful like subsidised driver training or even compulsory training, or even information packs. They decide to give us something that no one that is actually causing the majority of these accidents will display.

So if I have this right, other road users will see this plate and then give them a wide berth on the road, perhaps even pull over to let them past so that they are not in danger of being taken out and that it will automatically fix the problem.

We are skirting around the bush and it is becoming increasingly annoying. Give me 2 months in the seat of whoever is making these Mickey Mouse decisions and I could assure you that we would have halved the death toll in New Zealand. I would cut to the heart of the problem and not take any bullshit for an answer.

“You are at the greatest risk on the road in the first six to nine months after getting your restricted licence and driving solo.”

Ok, so that is no surprise at all really. I mean, look at it this way. Where a lot of the current full license holders already should not be let onto the roads in New Zealand and they are teaching our young generation to drive, they are merely passing over bad habits. So that when these drivers go out alone onto the road by themselves, they continue to make the same mistakes that their parents do and we have a never ending cycle.

Just recently the restricted driving test became a lot more difficult, by that, I mean that these people actually have to know how to drive first. From the start of this change, there has been something like 40-50% of Learner drivers that have failed the test compared to around -20% before if memory serves me right. What does that show us? That nobody could drive in the first place and they have only just cottoned on. One small step for man I guess.

At the end of the day, if we want to see any real change in the road toll and the accident statistics, we need to drastically change our current regime. Harder laws, compulsory training and regular testing, a large media campaign to bring awareness and a  zero tolerance for mis-behaviour.

All writing in quotes taken from the NZ Herald article – http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10808933

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At dawn on the 25th of April, we remember the ANZAC’s who fought so bravely on the shores of Gallipoli. The men who fought for our country, our freedom and our families. As they charged onto the shores of Anzac Cove, 2km north of where they should have landed, hell rained down from above and the surrounding hills for months on end. More Information

Cenotaph in Wellington, New Zealand

“Those heroes that shed their blood

And lost their lives.
You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country.
Therefore rest in peace.
There is no difference between the Johnnies
And the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side
Here in this country of ours.
You, the mothers,
Who sent their sons from far away countries
Wipe away your tears,
Your sons are now lying in our bosom
And are in peace
After having lost their lives on this land they have
Become our sons as well.”

This story is the work of myself, and whilst based on the ANZAC’s and the battles that they fought, may not be completely factual or correct and is merely an effort to get across what went on in Gallipoli that month.

Wellington Battalion – 6am – Sunday the 25th – 1915

As the cannons boomed throughout the morning sky against the bay as the British, French and Russian soldiers attacked the Turks, we sat on small boats making our way in. We were confident that we would call victory soon after we landed and many of us were un-fazed by the ongoings around us. Some of the men were reading books that they had brought along with them and some were drawing deep breaths from the cigarette that hung from their lips.

There was a chill in the air as the day came upon us and the sun began to rise lazily through the sky, the sound of water lapping up against the side of the boat, brought an ever reminding knowledge that we were on our way to where we would begin our assault.

What could possibly withstand these cannons? Surely their firepower would destroy anything that was in it’s path!

                                                                          – 9am –

As we drew into the bay bullets started to whizz by, if we were lucky, none of them would hit us. We had our packs strapped to our backs and guns at the ready, a steely look of determination in each man’s eyes. My friends, many of the men in my Battalion I had grown up with, we had shared laughs and tears, many memories and our fears. Now here we stand, side by side, tall and proud, fearless  and strong.

The closer we got, the more the bullets seemed to draw near. As I was thinking of my family, one of my soldiers walked towards me, swaying with the ocean waves as he stumbled closer, laden with heavy gear. Before he could open his mouth he dropped to the deck and a spray of blood coated everything around him, we rushed over to him and saw that a bullet had entered into his spine and he had died instantly, without even firing a single shot.

We had to put it at the back of our minds as we were now seconds away from landing, the crack of gunshots filled the air and we were paused, waiting to disembark.

Tension was present among all of us as we looked around as soldiers in ones and two’s were picked off like flies, slumping off the side of the boat or floating, motionless on the water, encapsulated in an everlasting peace. At that point in time they seemed like the unlucky ones, unable to continue on and take part in the unfolding events.

                                                                     – 9.30am –

As the boat crashed upon the sand, we jumped off in unison and tried to make our way up into a covered spot from enemy fire but the bay was to narrow for it and the surrounding terrain was a lot harder to get around than what was expected.

I was nervous now, volleys of bullets rained down on top of us and the ground became littered with bodies as men lay still, sometimes shaking with shock as they bled out, alone. I shouted out to my company and grouped them back together with what also remained of another company whose commanding officer had been killed on shore.

Chaos was all around, the deafening snap of gunshots mixed with the screams of men, outboard motors humming in the background and the cannon shots that were blasting into the walls, some 60km’s away. Men were running everywhere, there was no direction and no escape. The Turks were buried up in the hills above that overlooked the bay and shot constant rounds off into us, while also seemingly out of reach.

The Australians that had landed earlier were starting to take the crest, I still don’t know how they managed that and the machine-gun that was laying into the troops was silenced but the noise carried on in my head for long after. The shock from this ordeal nearly made me lose my mind there and then, for months we had been stuck in the deserts of Egypt, training and eager to get out into battle, to defend our countries and to take part in this new adventure. But nothing could have prepared us for this. Death hung like a shadow, creeping up silently and quickly taking soldiers from around us and pulling them into Mother Earth’s embrace.

It was pointless trying to control what was going on around me, men were scattered throughout the knee high scrub that was as much as a problem as the Turkish troops we were facing.

Up ahead we saw a hill that was of great importance, it is what we had planned on taking over when we had moved up over the plains but because we were dropped near the base of the Highlands it was a much more difficult effort to accomplish that task. The hill was dubbed ‘Baby 700’ and would allow us to take control of Chunuk Bair.

                                                                      – 6pm –

The sun was beginning to fall and the thunk of pick-axe’s reverberated around, the sweat, blood and tears of each soldier running down the handle into the cold, hard earth.

The wounded were being carted off , too many too see and many dying alone in the silence whilst waiting to see a medic. The dead numbered in the hundreds, with the injured at a much higher toll. Whenever I looked into another soldiers eyes, I could see a place void of any hope, empty of feeling and dark red with anger. Many a friend had been lost in the battle, people they once knew, now still, lain among the dirt.

The Otago battalion were keeping watch and holding the lines as we dug into the unforgiving earth that would more than likely claim our bodies. We were different now, I can’t quite put my finger on what it is but we are not who we used to be, or ever will be once again.

To be continued…

(Writing now)

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Photo taken from stuff.co.nzNew Zealand’s roads have been referred to as “The killing fields”, In 2010 our death toll sat at 375 deaths, with 2007 being our hardest hitting year within the last 5 years, at a whopping 421 deaths on our roads.
The New Zealand Transport Agency claims that out of those deaths, around 170 are speed related with the rest being blamed on dangerous roads, driver inattention and alcohol and drug related incidents.

Studies show that high risk (Drivers convicted of a driving related offence, including drink driving, dangerous driving or speeding as a few examples.) drivers along with young drivers between the ages of 20 – 24 years old who are at fault in a crash, account for 58% of all serious crashes on New Zealand roads.
Taking into account the governments assessment on the roads, detailing such areas as a stretch of state highway between Parnell and Western Springs which has seen 20 serious crashes and the lives of 2 people over the past 5 years.

There are many other roads considered to be “dangerous” that are scattered throughout New Zealand, although the majority of them are in the Greater Auckland region.

Why is it that these roads are labelled as dangerous, and that there is such a high number of crashes on these particular stretches of road? Why is it, that so many crashes can be blamed on these dangerous roads and yet the government only looks to fix the immediate cause, instead of looking at the root of the problem?
You could say that pot-holes and blind corners could attribute to it, that no median barriers could also be a cause. You could also go so far as to say that the road surface isn’t the correct type for tyres, and you could also say that environmental conditions such as black ice or off camber corners are to blame. But all that really points to is a lack of driver awareness and/or ability.
No matter where you are, there will never be a perfect road surface to drive on, there will never be full visibility throughout all of the corners and livestock and other factors will always come into play.

What really stands out is the ability of road users to adapt to an ever-changing environment. As a motorcyclist, I am subject to a much larger possibility of hitting something that will cause me to fall off, whether it be a possum, pot hole or slick of diesel, I have to constantly adjust my riding accordingly to the road conditions so as to not come to a potentially fatal end.
I believe the cause of this problem is first of all the driver licensing system as at present, recently the government have changed the license test for people looking to sit the restricted test into an hour-long driving session with a much harder criteria to pass the test which is at least a start into educating drivers/riders on the skills needed to operate a motor vehicle on New Zealand roads.

Once passed you are then allowed onto the road, where there are a plethora of potential hazards along every stretch of road. It comes down to a matter of luck and trial and error, where as if you were taught the skills actually needed to ride on the road, there would be a significantly lower accident rate among road users and a large drop in the current road toll.

I believe another contributing factor to the large accident rate is the ability for a learner and restricted driver to drive any kind of car they like, which is usually a souped up Skyline or a car of relative style, where the power available to the still new driver is far above that of their ability and that is witnessed in the number of high-speed accidents where you have many who lose control of their vehicle and either flatten a pedestrian or wrap themselves around a power pole adding either 1 to 5 numbers to the death toll.

Back onto road conditions, what I have detailed should give you a small understanding on first of all, why young drivers are in the highest death toll statistics and why road conditions shouldn’t be to blame, but the driver’s ability to adapt and change their driving style to the conditions.
It does involve actually looking at the road and surroundings, and assessing them as you drive along the road. Looking for potential hazards and changing road conditions which will mean that drivers can’t be fiddling with radios, cell phones, cigarettes and those screaming children in the back. Making sure you are well rested and awake is also a crucial factor in being able to drive at 100% of your ability.

The governments plan for the future of many roads is to make them as easy and care free to drive on as humanly possible, now that may sound like a good idea at first and it may very well stunt the rise of fatalities on our roads. But all that will do is dull our senses even more untill we are driving on auto pilot, where at the time of any danger or hazard arises, we simply don’t have the tuned reactions to be able to deal with the situation properly and safely.

Which leads to the question, are we playing the blame game when it comes to the large number of lives lost on our roads and simply looking for a quick fix and something to lay the blame on? I have not seen any one actually come up with the idea that the standard of driving in New Zealand is rather sub-standard and that nothing is being done to prevent that. We are often presented with the saying “Sorry mate, I didn’t see you!” Now when you think about it, is there any reason that this should be a valid excuse? You are operating a large, powerful machine on public roads with young children, elderly and animals nearby, then there is also the majority of other road users who are sharing this space with you, if the driver is not paying attention enough to prevent a collision, then what else could they be doing?

Now about the condition of the roads, I will admit that the company that takes care of the repairs and construction of New Zealand roads, often do a poor job. The roads are constantly being repaired in spaces of up to every 6 months in some cases, if we spent the money in one large go and rebuilt the roads with a top quality surface, then we would be looking at a “safer” road, which needs less repairing, which would in turn reduce the queues that pop up all across the country due to repairs.

So is the New Zealand government simply playing the blame game? dealing to the easier and quicker yet less efficient method? It certainly seems so, and it is a chilling thought to think about how much our government really cares about our safety and driving standards, where they now focus on going a mere 5km/h over the posted speed limit where many speedos have a 10% inaccuracy which equates to roughly 10km/h over or under the limit, is that really making our roads dangerous or should be looking at other causes as to our death toll?

Matt Wishart


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KONY2012 – Behind the movie

Early March 2012, a 27 minute video spreads across the internet like wildfire, being posted on millions of Facebook profiles and stirring the hearts of people in every country, of every race and of every age.

On April 20th 2012, a world-wide protest has been organised, at the beginning of sundown hundreds of thousands of people will line the major streets in their cities and plaster the walls with propoganda, so that no one can escape the vision of a man who throughout 23 years has commited heinous crimes against humanity and has been indicted on 33 different charges against the International Criminal Court (ICC).

50 year old Joseph Kony is the guerrilla leader of the LRA, he is number one on the top 10 wanted list for crimes accountable in the ICC, and has abducted, raped, murdered and used young children as sexual slaves since the beginning of this group in 1986, so far he has amassed 66,000 children to fight in is army, and moved over 2 million people within three different countries throughout Uganda, Sudan and the Congo.

The video “Kony2012” by film maker Jason Russell, tells the story of a young man named Jacob, who has seen his brother slaughtered and taken part in the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and had managed to escape in earlier years.

It shows Jason’s son, being shown pictures of Kony and being told of what this man has done and what should be done about him, the boy’s answer was to stop him.

That is precisely what the video asks for us to do. Stop Kony. You can donate a few dollars a month into an orginisation called “Tri” who will then make use of the money, but we are not told how it will be put to use. In the video, education is referrenced on how to bring independecy to the Ugandan children, but it is only a referrence.

But according to a account holder on http://www.scam.com, Invisible children (What the founders of the protest have called their group) have in the total of past donations, totalling the $10 million mark, only donated 31% of it to any “actual” charity, with the rest going into comfortable salaries and extras and video production and other miscelaneous expenses.

That is interesting for an organisation/group that claims to want to make a change and to bring independence to the Ugandan children and adults, if World Vision or any other major charity only put through 31% of their donations through to the malnourished and un-educated children in Africa and around the world, then there would be an uproar.

What makes matters worse is that members in the group have been charged with embezzlement over donated money and this group has been claimed to have bribed officials and hire “expensive” lawyers so as to escape the prosecution of anybody who may have cottoned on to whatever was going on.

Now I certainly agree that Joseph Kony should be captured and sentenced, but how can we really help? What can our money do? What can our cries accomplish? What can our protests create?

The simple answer is not much, when America has already sent over 100 combat ready troops to aid in the capture of Kony in 2011 and then failed, when the Ugandan government is looking for him to no avail, then what can we do to help? It seems like a re-run of the famous game “Where’s Osama?”. It is all well and good to make him known, at least that brings him up to the surface of peoples minds so that we are more aware as to the goings on in this world, but wouldn’t the most effective way to capture Kony be to send in an Elite squad to stealthily and swiftly disable and extract this man?

The one thing this video has done is shown that the whole of the world can unite in one motion, one entity and as one voice against the atrocities of this nation and this generation that will be left for our children. It has shown the powers of communication in this day and age and the ability to spread something like a virus, out to the minds of anyone and everyone that watches the video.

But there is always another side to a story and that is what I worry people don’t look for, one trait that the general population has shown to be true in many past years, is the ability to blindly follow where many man has followed before. Whether that is down to coporate brainwashing through the eductaion system, who knows, but people will not question what they see in front of their eyes, many will “re-post” a video and support it 110% but not realise what they are really supporting.

Who knows, perhaps this whole orginisation will bring about a change, and will put the donations to good use, and will create a better world to live in, but until then we must wait and see, and look for the answers ourselves.

 Matt

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