Monday, February 26, 2024

Guaranteed to drive you round the bend 

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Alan Emerson fires up his imagination to find out how government agencies are going to counter coalition plans.
Reading Time: 3 minutes

With the government having the civil service in its sights, I decided to try to find out how the agencies are going to fight back.

While supping at the famous Whakataki Hotel, I was able to overhear part of a strategy from Land Transport NZ, or Waka Kotahi. The organisation was feeling particularly vulnerable because of the excess fat in its system and because it has had to change its name.

As “Waka Kotahi” has no future, the organisation decided its new name should be New Zealand’s Super Land Transport Agency. They will tell the new minister that the addition of “Super” will give the agency more credibility with the public and the media. 

They then moved on to the Road to Zero, which isn’t working. Our road toll is going up. It needs to be going down.

NZ Super Land Transport Agency (NZSLTA) is about to start a series of new initiatives, and I have the lowdown.

Loss of control is the biggest factor in crashes causing death and the remedy is simple:  improve co-ordination. Co-ordination is described as “the ability to use your senses”.  It can be achieved by “skipping, juggling and balancing exercises”.

A national co-ordination initiative is about to start, with a nationwide skipping, juggling and balancing competition. All those with driver’s licences are encouraged to enter.

They plan to make the test compulsory for the over 65s.

The intention is to show the NZSLTA is actually doing something. It has $20 million allocated for an advertising campaign.

“It is a small step for man and a huge step for mankind” was going to be the advertising slogan but the NZSLTA Committee on Cultural Sensitivity (CoCS) canned the quote as excessively sexist. The problem was that “a huge step for personkind” didn’t have the same impact. NZSLTA has formed an additional committee to find a new line for its advertising. The committee will include males, females, LGBT and non-binary plus Christians, Muslims, Jews and Buddhists.

They have 18 months to produce a recommendation. It is a monumental challenge in such a short time frame but NZSLTA has always been up to tough challenges, was the rationale.   

The second issue is going too fast for the conditions.

The intention is to have an electronic speed sign plus a weather station every 5km on state highways.

The weather station will determine the conditions that will set the speed limit, which will then be transmitted to the electronic sign, thus changing the limit. It can be updated every 15 minutes, so drivers will need to concentrate.

There will be speed cameras incorporated into the signs so the changes can be rigidly policed. “The revenue that will produce is astounding” was the rationale.

NZSLTA is also committed to further reducing speed limits, especially in urban areas. It believes if speed limits are incredibly low people will be convinced to use other means of transport, specifically bikes and horses.

It believes that its initiatives will not only lower the road toll but save the planet as well. When asked where the horses would live in a city like Auckland, it identified four golf courses it could nationalise and turn into horse paddocks. There’s also the Avondale Jockey Club, which has plenty of room for horses.

NZSLTA knows what is best for motorists and the new speed initiative is part of that. Its mantra being “We always know what is best for you”.

In addition, the new government will be increasingly supportive of NZSLTA because it will be a major generator of revenue. It’ll want to increase our staff, not cut it.

Talking about staff and employment, our new speed limits will make the economy so inefficient more people will be required to do the same amount of work. NZSLTA is, therefore a social innovator creating more jobs. It knows what’s best for you and the country.

When reminded that the government wants to increase speed limits, the agency had the answer. It maintained that if it reduced speed limits then commercial drivers, especially stock carriers, wouldn’t be able to get to their destination in the required five and a half hours, thus earning a fine.

“It will boost government revenues even more than their encouraging smoking” was the rationale.

Being under the influence of alcohol or drugs is the third biggest cause of road accidents causing death, and that will be easily fixed.

NZSLTA has developed a world-first alcohol and drug monitor that can be placed on the dashboard of cars. If the monitor picks up alcohol or drugs, the vehicle won’t start.

It was pointed out to NZSLTA that while methamphetamine stays in the system only a few hours, marijuana will stay there for months.

Its answer was simple: “Don’t use dope, use P” followed by the statement “We always know what’s best for you”.

It’s going to be an interesting three years.

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