10 February 2015

 

Still in its infancy, the New Zealand Transport Agency are behind a new website called On The Move.  It allows you to put in your point of departure and destination, and then informs you of any major delays for your journey be they highway roadworks, hazards (ie slips, crashes, snow or ice) or localised warnings (ie strong winds or heavy rain).

For those used to the NZ Automobile Association Roadwatch website - it uses the same data (as supplied by the NZTA) although On The Move encourages you to register so they can delivery alerts for your particular chosen route on the days of the week that you have chosen, and during the hours you have selected - something that Roadwatch doesn't yet do.  Good perhaps for a sales representative or truck driver who is continually travelling the same stretch of road.

Roadwatch lists future suburban road closures ahead of time too which is useful if you are going to be driving around the inner city areas as well as the highways.

There are other websites and applications that use the information from NZTA.  A gallery of them can be found on the infoconnect website.

 

On The Move

Roadwatch

 

The NZTA still have separate pages on their main website detailing cautions for Auckland, the North Island and the South Island; and specific Twitter feeds for:

Auckland

Wellington

Top of the South Island

Central North Island

Canterbury & West Coast

Waikato & Bay of Plenty

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Additionally NZTA offer a telephone service to enquire about road conditions and for you to call if there are any issues that need attending to on the highways during your journey 0800 4 HIGHWAYS (free call).  

 

To report urgent but non-injury crashes, erratic driving, traffic congestion, breakdowns and obstructions on the highway phone *555 (free call).  [This will take you through to the Police call centre but gives you a lower priority than if you phone 111.]

 

To report dangerous driving, you need to lodge an official complaint at the nearest Police station.
 

Lastly if you would like to report a non-urgent incident of poor driving where you do not wish the offender to be prosecuted - ie dangerous overtaking, crossing the centre line, tailgating or holding up traffic on a motorway you can either fill in the online report or print a copy off and send it in.

 

For both of the last items take down as much information as possible like the registration number of the vehicle, colour, make, time, location etc.

03 February 2015

 

Having driven some long hauls in the last couple of years I have really been thinking about how it is one can determine if they are fit to do so BEFORE you start out let alone tell if you need to pull over and rest a while en route.

There are road signs that remind us not to drive while we are tired but how do you really tell?

Nobody talks about it.

It's not until you study for your heavy vehicle license that you learn the rudimentary laws surrounding how much rest you must have per hours of continuous driving but this alone will not prevent all the accidents and fatalities on the road.

Rules are generic; drivers however are human.

As an individual we need to take a good honest look at ourselves to evaluate whether we should be on the road.  We need to ignore time constraints and financial (dis-)incentives and get real.  Those we travel with and the other drivers on the road are counting on us.

 

Here are some of the down-to-earth preparations and considerations we have when we travel to help you figure out yours:

 

ALCOHOL & DRUGS

Some folks have a no-alcohol-after-a-meal-the-night-before policy (we're basically tee-totallers so that's not an active item on our checklist).   Check any medication for side effects of drowsiness too.

 

SLEEP

In our household we have always had the guideline of going to bed by 10pm the night before a long journey.  As we get older and/or our lives busier we are increasing our preparation to 2 nights earlier to bed for both drivers.

If we don't sleep we may postpone our departure, until the afternoon and the main driver has had a day nap; or to the next day.

What does not sleeping well mean?

  • Tossing and turning
  • Broken / interrupted sleep
  • Waking up feeling like you have been hit by a truck
  • Mentally feeling like you don't want to get up
  • Cursing your alarm
  • Bleary-eyed

With good sleep you ought to be able to wake up naturally in the morning and have the physical and mental energy and enthusiasm to get up.  This does not mean relying on your morning coffee or hoping the running hot water from a shower will 'get you going'.

 

SLOW or SLUGGISH

Once you are up, if you feel slow or sluggish that's another sign. Slow to process what someone else is saying to you or to construct a coherent sentence in reply; sluggish to physically move through your routine or think what needs to be done next. 

I like the idea of being technical about it and use the ruler drop test to gauge the speed of your reactions (but you'd need to have done this prior to gain a baseline value).

 

 

DENSE or DRAINED

If you feel dense or drained in the eye region / face or head in general don't drive.

 

So you've passed all your checks and you are on the road, what then?  How do you know when you should stop?

Think about the following:

  • Yawning
  • Veering left or right
  • Missing speed signs - driving too fast or too slowly
  • Miscalculating distances especially when turning
  • Hearing the rumble strip (bumps sometimes on the left hand side of the road to mark the edge of the lane that make a rumble when driven over)
  • Feeling like you NEED a coffee / energy drink or chocolate
  • Head is nodding or is hard to hold up
  • Muscles are aching or twitching
  • Having trouble focusing on the road; or your mind is wandering

You don't have to wait to have more than one indicator to stop.  Prevention and taking responsibility is better than an accident or fatality.  Being late to arrive somewhere is better than never.  

Take a 15 minute break every 2 hours of driving.

Stop to get fresh air, increase your circulation by walking around, have a drink or something to eat just don't use these pick-me-ups solely to try and keep you awake when you know you ought to have a rest instead.

Definitely rest or hand-over the driving to someone else (if the latter is an option).  Knowing your limitations isn't a sign of weakness it's a reflection of your deep sense of social responsibility.

 

WHAT ARE YOUR SIGNS?  SHOULD YOU BE DRIVING?

27 January 2015

 

The process of applying for a class 2 drivers license in New Zealand consists of passing a driver's medical examination, an eye test and a 35-question theory test.  The later in which you may only get two answers wrong.   Here is a list of places (NZTA agents) where you can sit your test.
 
There are various ways of studying for the theory component.  
 
You can buy the (up-to-date) road code for heavy vehicles from a bookstore, or NZTA agent and read it from cover to cover.  It has all the test questions in the back of the book too which you can use to check how well you are comprehending what you are reading.  The slight problem with this method is that whilst reading through chapter by chapter you won't know which questions are for which class and may end up cramming more than you need.
 
If you have registered for an advanced driving course some will send you out a theory study workbook as part of your fee, if they require you to obtain your theory license prior to participation in their 2 or 3-day intensive workshops.  Others include teaching the theory component and sitting the test with them as day one of their course.
 
Another way is online.  drivingtests.co.nz is a website that is permitted by NZTA to re-produce the questions and answers to all their theory tests: Car, motorcycle, heavy vehicle; and even one for tourists (that some rental companies require visitors to take prior to hiring).
 
The quizzes contain questions about:
 
  • basic driving knowledge
  • driving behaviour
  • parking
  • emergencies
  • road positions
  • intersections
  • signs
  • legalities and theory
  • additional specifics for both motorcycles and trucks
 
You can choose to take a quiz in any of these areas separately too.
 
If you get a question right your answer will be enforced by an affirmation and brief precis summarising the background to the question and answer.  If you get a question wrong you still get the summary and the question is marked for you to revisit at the end of a quiz.
 
Sitting there doing a random test after test online initially seems like a perfect solution, but they are not iterative (ie they don't leave out the questions that you answer correctly and focus on re-introducing the ones that you don't) and would take many random tests before you covered all the possible theory questions.  That is the only down-fall that I see to the site.
 
So another way of focussing in on areas you need to learn/revise is doing the separate quizzes in each of the sub-sections above.   This seems to be a better way of making sure you cover all of the possible questions and it helps that they are logically grouped together in the way that your mind would access the information again later.  
 
If you were parking a vehicle you'd think about all the parking questions; if you were at an intersection then you'd need to recall all those specific questions.
 
 
Driving Tests also have a pay-for android application and an i-phone one too.  
 
Other apps are available but look as if they are only relevant to class 1.

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