Every weekday I see dozens of people tempting fate on one of New Zealand’s most deadly stretches of highway.
Thankfully I’m sitting safely on the commuter train which runs parallel to the Queens Highway between Paekakariki and Pukerua Bay.
For about five minutes the train is within about 10 metres of the highway and is moving roughly at the same speed as the cars (about 80km/h). This offers me a perfect viewpoint to observe the habits of those ‘driving’ on the highway.
I hesitate to use the term ‘driving’ – here’s why:
Out of the 46 drivers I observed…
- 11% were texting while driving.
- 9% were speaking on a cellphone.
- 70% had just one hand on the steering wheel.
- 4% (two people) had no hand on the wheel.
- 9% were eating.
- 4% were grooming (e.g. putting on makeup).
- 1 person was reading the paper (while driving!).
This equates to just 26% of drivers with two hands on the wheel!
Now, if I take…
- All people who had at least one hand on the wheel, and…
- Remove all people who were texting, on the phone, eating, reading or putting on makeup
Then 65% of the drivers did have some degree of control over the vehicle.
But 35% would have no level of control if faced with a dicey situation – this is 1 in 3 drivers heading your way on the killer coastal highway…
I strongly suggest taking the train.