Saturday, October 8, 2011

ZenTiger Coroner wants vehicles banned

A coroner has called for banning vehicles, after he found one was used improperly and lead to a crash and the death of a passenger.

Hang on, that's three years away. This time coroner Tim Scott has only called for a total ban on snow tyres. Tim Scott does not think snow tyres, used properly, could actually save lives so he wants them banned (according to the Dom Post today). I think this is a dangerous thing to advocate, and particularly coming from a coroner. Just to see what's happening in other parts of the world that experience snow, I had a quick look at Quebec back in 2007:
Quebec motorists will be required to swap their summer tires for winter ones starting next winter, under a provincial law passed Wednesday. As of Nov. 15, 2008, drivers will have to equip their vehicles with snow tires from that day each year through to April 15. The province estimates that 90 per cent of vehicles already use snow tires though an estimated 500,000 people rely on all-season tires.
Finland, Sweden and Estonia apparently have similar laws. The Quebec legislation followed calls for a Coroner to make snow tyres mandatory after a winter crash back in 2004.

A few years ago, another coroner in NZ called for them being banned in mixed use, and on imports. When mixed, they are proven to be dangerous.  (As I learned in the comments section!) However, since April 2010, it's been illegal to mix tyre types, so the issue is to ensure this is one of the things checked for during a warrant, and whenever tyre shops sell snow tyres, they need to be clear on how they should be used. I'd support a requirement that imported cars arrive with standard tyres rather than offloading second hand snowies here, and car sales require cars to be sold with standard tyres (throw in the set of snow tyres as part of the deal, don't make them the only option on the car).

NZTA provide a brochure on snow tyres - how to recognize them and when they can be used.

Ultimately, snow tyres, used appropriately save lives.  Did Tim not refer to any safety information from countries experiencing snow before coming up with this plan?  And with scientists claiming the world is warming, clearly there will be more snow to contend with in the years to come.  This past winter proves my point.

There is a safety issue to address here, but banning them will quite probably create another death, somewhere in Queenstown or the desert road in winter, and what will the coroner say then?

The broader issue though is should things like this be banned?  Is the government using its powers appropriately if it punishes people who seek out snow tyres because they wish to use them on their cars in alpine-wintry conditions?

If it's a matter of saving lives, then I note this was yet another head-on collision on a state highway.  We'd dramatically improve road safety covering numerous situations, not just dodgy tyres, if state highways were designed with wider lanes, median barriers, and divided where possible.  Whilst the terrain of NZ makes this challenging, there's scope for all road maintainance of our highways to start incorporating these things.  That seems to me a better approach than blanket bans.

1 comment(s):

scrubone said...

Considering their position, coroners have made some astonishingly ignorant recommendations in recent years.

It's done the office serious damage in my humble opinion.

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