Rodney Hide shows us why we should learn algebra at school

I was dreadful at algebra at school, still am.

I could never see any point to it, especially with the stupid questions like “if train A travels at 90km/h and train B travels at 100km/h and train A leaves station C and train b leaves station D at the same time will they both reach station e at the same time” or some other crap like that.

My answer, which turned out to be wrong every time, was “Check the timetable”.

I digress…Rodney Hide has shown proper use of algebra in slamming the Police’s stupid insistence on zero tolerance of exceeding the speed limit.

Overtaking on the road safely and within the law is now all but impossible.

The speed limit on the open road is 100km/h. The police are applying zero tolerance. You can now be ticketed at 101km/h. The speed limit for heavy vehicles and cars pulling caravans, boats or trailers is 90km/h.  

Do the maths. In good driving conditions we are advised to apply the “two-second rule”. At 90km/h that’s 50m. So you pull out 50m behind a truck and trailer, the truck and trailer is 20m long and you pull in once safely 50m past. You have to make 120m to pass safely.

If the truck is doing 90km/h and you stick to 100km/h it takes 43 seconds to gain that 120m.

At 100km/h you will have travelled 1.2km. You must allow for a car coming towards you at 100km/h. To pass safely you need 2.4km of clear road.

How is that zero tolerance going in achieving a low road toll this year?It is sitting at two so far…last year the total was seven.

The Police always claim success against speeding when the road toll is low…what will they do with zero tolerance and an increased road toll?

With New Year’s Day predicted to be wet and miserable I wouldn’t be hoping that it will stay low if I were them.


– NZ Herald



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  • MAWG

    Gee, I wonder why the lead news stories on TV last night were the major traffic snarls in Auckland and Wellington?

    • sin-ic

      Get a life! It’s holiday time and the MSM only know disaster, murder, drownings, rape, fatal crashes.
      It’s the best time to live in Auckland and not watch TV or listen to the radio.

      • MAWG

        Sin-ic. My point is that when you lower the tolerance and inhibit overtaking, traffic snarl ups are the inevitable conclusion.

        • Albert Lane

          Yes, especially as we’re told that traffic densities increase by 10% each year. Many of us are forced to drive on highways built for Morris Minors in the 1950’s, and our traffic people don’t seem to think we need more passing lanes. Grrrr…….

    • Albert Lane

      A couple of days after Christmas last year, it took me 1 hour to drive 17 km from Warkworth to Wellsford. I saw two cop cars, both going in the opposite direction on the empty southern lane. I expected to see them at regular intervals hurrying the slow northbound camperwagons along. But no. Did not see even one cop car on our side of the road. The two that I saw were probably going south for their lunch. Hopeless. We who live adjacent to SH1 are prisoners in our own homes during holiday periods, as driving conditions are so slow. And here we have Phil Goff and his friends the Greens telling us we don’t need a decent highway. And now some people are saying that Goff should run for Mayor of Auckland next time. God help us !!

  • El Diablo

    The police will simply use the same argument they use every time. When the toll is low it’s because of “their increased vigilance and tougher measures working”. When the toll is high it’s because “Kiwi drivers are still not getting the message and even stricter enforcement is necessary”. Either way the police can’t lose and the public can’t win.

    • dgrogan

      Regardless of the actual reason, a lower road toll is good, surely?

      • El Diablo

        My point, which you have appeared to miss, is that no matter what the road toll is, the police have always got an excuse to justify their excessive use of speed enforcement.

        • Albert Lane

          And that’s because they like sitting on the side of the road with their radars on. In Australia, a radar car cannot sit on a downhill area to catch cars creeping over the limit on the slope. But in NZ, that seems to be their favourite place. Clowns.

  • unitedtribes

    This law effectively means the new limit is 90 Kl/hr as long as the truck can maintain that speed. Otherwise less. My own law when overtaking on my susuki is as fast as it will go.

  • RightofSingapore

    When the media report on a serious crash, they should be asking the Police “was this crash caused by a driver doing 1 kph over the speed limit?” the answer is of course no.

    • rantykiwi

      The Police should be asking Fonterra why their tankers seem to be involved in a dispropotionate number of fatal accidents. They should also be having a wee look at the GPS logs from said tankers as they always seem to be travelling well in excess of their 90 kph limit.

      • Nebman

        The tankers are black boxed by Fonterra which monitors everything from speed to braking, gear changes, acceleration, cornering speeds etc. While at times some of their tankers will exceed 90 it’s very limited in duration as the drivers get pinged by Fonterra for bad driving.

        Most tanker drivers (in fact by far the majority of professional heavy transport drivers in this country), are courteous and very forgiving towards other road users.

        The big BUT is that they’ll also not put up with driving behavior that puts them or their rigs at risk. And their ranks also contain the odd Muppet too but they usually don’t last too long in the game.

      • viking

        Not my experience. The tankers are well marked and mostly speed limited.
        another one today. Car turned out of a compulsory stop side road into the path of the tanker on the main rd.

      • BlitzkriegNZ

        People pull out I front of them or hit them as they pull out from a pick up. Simply lack of attention, nothing to do with speed. My stepdad is temp driving for a frontera contracted tanker company at the moment and they can’t go over 90.

  • kiwisnab

    Okay, here goes, Police policy on the speed limit annoys everything out of me. Policing speeding drivers is the easiest form of road policing for the Police. The road toll increased by 4 recently. That accident was not a factor of speed but will be added to the road toll and the increased road toll will be used by Police to justify their policy on speeding. The Police need to get proactive and re-educate drivers what good driving behaviour is, for example, if you notice a queue of cars behind you , pull over and if you want to turn right off a high way, pull over to the left and wait for both lanes to be clear before proceeding. And the motorway – right lane is for passing – not doing 100 kph!!!!

    The money gone into the Waikato expressway is wasted if the road can not be used as designed. If speed kills there would be no Formula One racing.

    • Hedgehog

      Agree totally. Rather than targeting speed, the police should be targeting incompetent and careless drivers. They target speed cause it’s easy and as El Diablo says below – they win either way. They also concentrate on fines rather than re-education, I’d rather see a completely useless git, have to pay for a training course rather than a fine. It’s a win-win – the driver gets to improve his driving and we get a better driver on the road – well hopefully anyway.

      • Albert Lane

        So what’s the answer? Should all cars be fitted with cameras so that drivers can hand in the footage showing cars passing on double yellow lines, slow cars holding up the traffic, motorbikes being ridden at breakneck speeds, trucks spraying dirt from their loads onto the traffic behind them.. etc? If the cops can’t control the roads, perhaps it’s got to be us who do it. If we were able to dob in the baddies, then we wouldn’t be as angry with the bad behaviour we see on the roads all the time.

  • Cadwallader

    I perceive that the road toll has more to do with weather conditions than a 1 km difference in permissible speed.

  • Unicorn

    My understanding of the police position is 100kmh is the top speed drivers can travel in optimal conditions – that is if traffic and road/weather conditions allow. So if the vehicle in front of you is travelling at 93kmh, for example, that is the speed you must travel at…the top speed is not the speed you have the right to travel at…

    • TreeCrusher

      Yes, but if weather and road conditions are good what excuses you to not travel at 100 km/hr. Personally I consider it extremely arrogant for someone to travel at ~90 km/hr knowing they are holding people up for no other reason than “they” think it is the right thing to do. Either that or they are blissfully unaware of what is happening around them, in which case they are not capable of operating a vehicle safely.

      • Albert Lane

        But if you are driving towards the Thames turnoff from the Auckland motorway, the limit for much of the highway is 90 kmh. You have to keep looking at your speedo to ensure you’re not doing 100, as it’s a perfectly good road. And on the final long passing lane before the turnoff, it’s still 90 kmh. Now what intelligent being decided that?

    • Albert Lane

      Yes, but what gives the person in front of you doing 93 kmh the right to decide that you can’t do 100 kmh? And that’s the cause of impatience, when somebody says “I pay my road taxes, so I’ll drive at any speed I like, and if I want to drive slower than the limit, I’ll do it, and anybody behind me can go to heck and back.”

  • Timebandit

    So, Almost 18 months ago, my 17 year old son, a pedestrian, was killed by a guy doing 106km in a 100km limit . What does that mean to anyone here? Probably nothing unless its happened to you…It is NOT suggested.. it is NOT a guideline… It is a LIMIT with all that that implies…there are too many signs out there that tell us “Its not a target” and to “Drive to the conditions”…and as far as I’m concerned the message is NOT getting through. Mostly it is BAD drivers and this country has more than its fair share, I know because I come from the UK and drive for a living. So .. on this one occasion … I’ll go with dumbing down to the lowest common denominator if it helps save just one persons life.

    • Hedgehog

      Timebandit, I am truly sorry for your loss and I can’t imagine the agony of losing a son or in my case a daughter. I don’t know any of the facts around the accident, but on the surface at 100km the outcome would likely be the same.

      • Timebandit

        6 km makes a difference as to where both my son and the driver would have been at the time… even a few feet would have made the difference

        • TreeCrusher

          Sorry, but that argument is not really valid as there are a number of variables that could’ve changed the relative positions of either party, this is commonly referred to the “butterfly” affect. The same argument could be said if the vehicle was travelling at 80 km/hr but just so happened to leave slightly earlier. The fact is 100 km/hr, 110 km/hr or 70 km/hr versus a human will have the same result.

    • Damon Mudgway

      The real issue here is a need to police drivers impeding the flow of traffic, not those exceeding the speed limit by a couple of km/h.

      My condolences for your loss, no parent should ever have to bury their child.

      • Albert Lane

        Exactly right. The shiny-bottomed Police bosses who are driven everywhere haven’t got a clue about traffic control. They are very good at not telling us what is really causing crashes and what doesn’t cause crashes.

    • Albert Lane

      Yes, but if you’re in Britain, keep a close watch on your rear vision mirror for white vans. They seem to be immune from any speed limits and they’ll even pass you on blind corners. When I’m in Britain, I drive close to the limit, and if somebody comes up behind me, I pull over and slow down to let them pass as soon as I can. But it seems that this is so uncommon in Britain, that they generally pull in behind you, probably because no red-blooded Brit would show anybody courtesy on the roads, and they don’t know what you’re doing.

  • Hedgehog

    The police aren’t concerned about road safety, they are concerned about road safety statistics. Policing is now driven by bureaucrats, these are people with no thought for common sense, practicality or the ability of front line officers enforcing their bright ideas. As long as the policy is defensible via stats and generates revenue. And as a bonus it gives that “feel good factor” to the people who don’t travel during the holiday period, or have 2 days to meander their way a couple of hundred kilometers up or down the line. They have covered their behinds and our oh so inquisitive journalists will lap it up with their usual enthusiasm.

    • Damon Mudgway

      Sadly hedge, I have to agree. The real pity here are the boys and girls in blue on the frontline are forced to buy into their bosses stupidity. It used to be that the Police bosses were ‘brighter’ than the average plod. Nowadays they’re not even as ‘bright’ as your average gang member.

  • JC

    My answer to passing hasn’t changed in over 50 years.. drive a V8, hot four or Falcon 6 and be capable of adding 20kph in a second or so and get past the slower vehicle asap. But I still want to be out, past and back in the lane with more than 100m clear ahead.

    I don’t claim to be a great driver but power gives me the safety margin I want.


    • TonyM

      Yeah my policy too but I’m worried my enthusism for this idea will lose me my license one day as some cars I drive easily break into lose your license territory if passing a truck or several vehicles.

      • JC

        But you’ll survive because power equals greater manouverability (assuming sobriety and not ridiculous speed).

        I had a work Subaru (1995) for years and loved it because I was mainly on metal roads in the backblocks where all wheel drive is control. Put her on the main rd up the Waioeka Gorge and have her at 95kph before overtaking and she’d snarl and rocket past a logging truck but at anything less than 70 she didn’t give enough raw power on the short overtaking stretches to be as safe.

        I’m happy to agree that a better driver with a manual would overcome this but for an average driver not looking to thrash the vehicle that gives him his livelihood power is a better alternative.


    • Pharmachick

      Yes, we have an Audi SQ5 … in part the “S” was for that reason. And in other part, because its great fun! :-)

    • jonno1

      Ditto. Just drop into S mode or even manual and boot it. I usually glance at the speedo as I pull back in but I won’t say what I see there.

    • Geoff

      That’s why they invented V8’s.

  • An issue I feel strongly about. Firstly, my policy when overtaking is “get out, get past, get back” and I do that as quickly as possible. If it’s against the law then the law’s an ass. Secondly, in today’s transport world the limit for trucks and trailers should be 100km/hr just like the rest of the traffic. Then we wouldn’t see huge queues of frustrated drivers held up by meandering motor homes, caravans, trailer boats and trucks. This single change would IMHO do more for road safety in NZ than an army of traffic police.

    • Wheninrome

      Most of the trucks that I wish to overtake are doing well over 100 some 110, so it is impossible to overtake. The police in the past have turned a “blind eye” to this in the interests of getting the goods to market or some such phrase. Truck and trailers should do 90 max and the rest of us have it a bit like Australia, judge the roads, some marked 110, some 100 and some 90 or even less, depending on what type of road it is.
      Trucks require a huge amount of time to stop, Rodney Hide could work that out given physics speed and moving matter.
      I have seen idiots nip in just in front of a large truck and trailer and nearly causing the truck to jack-knife because they have to jam on their brakes to slow down given the idiot in the car slows down the moment he/she has passed the truck.
      Speed is a killer we are told, so are slow cars causing others frustration. So in reality it is people who are the killers, being in charge of the cars and making decisions that are unsound.

      • Lemuzz

        Trucks towing trailers have much larger brake drums and on more wheels and therefore better braking ,can stop as well as or better than cars even when loaded. Generally because they have more experienced drivers and as a rule the drivers are sitting much higher and can see things unfold they are far less likely to to be involved in accidents

        • Wheninrome

          Fonterra seems to be having a few issues, for whatever reason.

    • Geoff

      I’m with you. When I overtake I boot it, the less time in the oncoming lane the better. I often exceed 140 but only for a few seconds. What’s the point of owning a V8 otherwise.

      • HSV325

        Totally agree and I do the same.

        • Albert Lane

          If you’re sober and a good driver, It’s logical, sensible and safe. If you’re drunk, drugged and a bad driver, it’s dangerous. So why aren’t we given stats on who is causing the accidents? The cops know that it’s the bad drivers who are the cause of most of our crashes, but do they ever do anything at all to identify them, and get them off the road? Nah. They’re too busy sitting in their cars waiting for somebody who is driving 1 kmh too fast. I call that negative policing. And it’s the invention of the people who run the police. The police have to drive with the traffic and pull over the dud drivers. Simple as that.

  • Damon Mudgway

    In one foul sweep politicians could practically wipe out the road toll. Lower the open road speed limit to 50km/h. Incredibly unpopular idea of course, but would it in actual fact make a difference?

    • colin herbertson

      lowering the speed limit reduces the roads efficiency,but increasing to 110 on motorways and cutting to 90 on unmedian stripped roads would help.

      • Sailor Sam

        To be effective, speed limits for trucks and cars must be the same.
        Note that in OZ, there is no speed differential and traffic flows really smoothly on 110kph and also on 90 kph roads.
        People sit on or near the speed limit when possible, thus no holding up traffic.

    • Michael_l_c

      A head on at 50km/h would, without braking produce impact of 100km/h therefore I suggest the limit should be reduced to 10km/h.
      The alternative would be to introduce modern 4 legged transport. You may have heard of the horse.

      • Damon Mudgway

        Brilliant. The Greens would support this I’m sure.

      • jonno1

        Not actually true if the vehicles are comparable in size, eg car to car or truck to truck, as the impact force remains the same as if hitting a stationary object at 50km/h (in your example). Both vehicles crumple with the point of contact remaining static (initially, there are lots of other factors of course such as angle and offset). But partly true for vehicles of greatly different mass in that the larger vehicle just keeps on going, so its speed on impact is effectively added to that of the smaller vehicle.

        • Michael_l_c

          jonno, thx. You are correct. Became aware of something I didn’t know.
          Still end up dead unless u have airbags.

          • jonno1

            Sadly, I once saw a bus (coming over a rise on the wrong side) hit a motorcycle just a hundred metres in front of me. The bus’s speed of 100+km/h didn’t reduce one iota until the driver hit the brakes. The motorcycle went from 100km/h in one direction to almost the same speed in the other, instantly. Oddly, in court it turned out the bus driver was a moonlighting cop.

    • BlitzkriegNZ

      People would pay even less attention going that slow, there’d be even more crashes.
      Edit – Stupid kills, not simply speed. Unless that speed is stupidly unsafe.

      • Albert Lane

        Isn’t it strange that we never see complete statistics from our Police. Take, for example, a sober driver overtaking a slow car or truck on a good stretch of straight road with plenty of visibility, and speeding up to 120 kmh on the overtaking movement to avoid being on the wrong side of the road for any more than the minimum amount of time. Have any crashes/fatalities resulted from this type of driving in the past year? My assessment (guess) is None. But this is exactly what the Police are going to target. So who decides that an overtaking car cannot exceed the speed limit in order to reduce the amount of time on the wrong side of the road? Answer: an idiot.

  • conwaycaptain

    Check the Timetable is only ok in countries where the trains run on time like Japan and France.
    NBG in the UK!!!! or NZ

    • Citizen

      That is when they aren’t on strike in France.

  • Dog Breath

    In the US their biggest road policing effort is what is called aggressive driving, these being people who drive like racing car drivers, doing crazy overtaking maneuvers or weaving in and around traffic. Considered much more serious when compared to speeding.

  • Michael_l_c

    Whatever the road toll the police will not acknowledge & factor in the ‘lives saved’ by new motorways; have you noticed the decrease in fatal crashes between Ak & Hamilton; improvement in vehicle safety, ‘rescue’ helicopters; improvement in medical care.
    I am convinced a contributor to the road toll that is ignored are the slow drivers who drive slowly with a growing tail of frustrated drivers behind them, will not pull over to allow others past & then speed up when a passing lane approaches. No enforcement is done by the police – too hard, speed cameras on motorways will solve it all.

    • In Canada and in some parts of the US, if you have more than six cars behind you, you have to pull over and let them pass. But that supposes the idiot at the front actually uses their rear view mirror!

  • TonyM

    Why can’t we have average rather than instanteous speed cameras like other developed nations have.

  • johcar

    I drove to Tauranga on Xmas Day. I joined a line of traffic as I came off SH1 onto SH27.

    In front of me were approximately seven or eight cars, following a campervan and then in front of that, a line of about 6 cars led by a 15 year old (-ish) Toyota Celica (or similar.

    Being well aware of the “no tolerance” enforcement I used my cruise control, however we were travelling *under* 90km/h most of the way south, with most of the vehicles in front of me held up by the same idiot in the Celica (including the campervan!!).

    Adhering to the speed limit, they could only overtake one at a time – as per the clear road needed as indicated above.

    It took me until just north of Taneatua to get past the idiot in the Celica, who made absolutley no effort to move over to the left to allow faster vehicles to pass, by which time I was well and truly aggravated. Not a pleasant drive!

    • Michael_l_c

      J, No criticism of you, but the police. What effect does frustration have on drivers & on the road toll. Perhaps dealing with the cause of frustration would be a good idea. Ooops that’s too hard.

      • johcar

        Many moons ago (in the eighties – last century) I used to be a motorcycle courier (did it two years in London, three years in Auckland). Was NEVER targetted in London by the cops, NEVER got a speeding ticket (bearing in mind that the faster you drove, the more money you made. And if you sped without skill, the money-train was self-limiting!)

        In and around Auckland, I was riding about 300km a day (that’s more than 6000km a *month*!!). During those 3 years I had three ‘offs’ – all my own fault (momentary lack of attention) and all at less than 30km/h.

        Speed doesn’t kill. Lack of skill and inattention does.But these two things aren’t as easy to police as speeding…

        (I had to give it away eventually. We were easy targets for the MOT and local body traffic cops: bright-coloured leathers and sign-written bikes – a number of speeding tickets got me up to 90 points – 10 points short of loss of licence).

    • Steve (North Shore)

      The drivers of the camper and the celica would have been teachers. No way are they going to let you go faster than them – control freaks

  • Backdoor

    Let us use Rodney Hide’s algebra and calculate the different in time it takes to travel 100kilometres at both 1000kph and 90kph, all other things being equal.

    I would suggest the additional time is 6.666 minutes . OMG, That is terrible. It means sitting in a car for a whole 6.666 minutes while life rushes by. What a waste of life.

    • Geoff

      I think you may have too many zeros. My car won’t do 1000kph.

      • Backdoor

        Thank you for the correction. My error.

    • Dave_1924

      Its not about actual time. We are human and we as humans tend to get Frustrated when things don’t go our way or we PERCEIVE them not going our way. The younger we are or the more stressed we are, the easier the frustration sets in.

      Why is this valid in response to your comment – because sitting behind someone travelling at 90kph when you want to travel at 100kph, especially when travelling long distance is often Perceived as inconvenient and that leads to frustration. Frustration leads to poor decision making and that leads to mistakes sometimes fatal ones in cars.

      Rodneys point wasn’t about that though – it was about overtaking safely when you top speed is restricted to 100kph. His point was, if you read his article, was you need to stay on the wrong side of the road much, much longer if you have to stick to 100kph. and being on the wrong side is very dangerous especially when frustration and consequent poor decision making is in play….

  • TreeCrusher

    It was reported on the news tonight that a chap was caught travelling at 200 km/hr. I thought, no, this couldn’t be. Surely the new tolerance meant this wouldn’t happen. In my opinion it is people that speed excessively that are the biggest problem and, as these people are already breaking the law, the speed limit or enforcement tolerance won’t make a blind bit of difference.

    While I accept the basic physics argument of a particular car doing 110 km/hr having much more energy than a car doing 100 km/hr as the energy is proportional to the velocity squared there is another variable in the equation, mass. Due to this there is a wide range of kinetic energy in cars depending on their individual mass. To use this argument, as many do, ignores the fact that a 650 kg mini would have to be going much faster than 100 km/hr to impart the same energy in a crash as a Ford Explorer, yet both have the same speed limit. And that doesn’t even take into account the different braking efficiencies of vehicles and their respect 100 to 0 km/hr braking distances.

    I’m not suggesting there should be different limits for vehicles based on their mass and braking efficiency but it does show how idiotic an argument about +/- 10km/hr at 100 km/hr really is.

    • Alright

      TreeCrusher you really need to get out more.

  • ElZorrodePlata

    It’s an emotive subject for sure. In reality it makes no difference what the limit is or what the tolerance is. It’s the law. However as most people agree, speed is not the only cause of accidents. For example, having some knuckle dragging headcase pass you on a double yellow line doing far in excess of the speed limit, totally in contempt for the law and other drivers on the road, however is a real issue. There seems to be a culture of speed and carelessness that the Police are struggling to bring into line. It’s like the revised alcohol laws… I suspect that these laws are an attempt to manage this growing culture, and the average family is effectively paying the price.
    What I believe is needed is not more powers given to the police via laws that impose more control, but real power given to the Police and the courts to effectively deal with this culture. i.e. Cars need to be crushed for repeat offenders, rather than simply racking up fines that won’t be paid.
    Reporting these nutters to the Police is also harder as without a car kit, using a cell phone in a car by the driver is also illegal… So how do you encourage the public to report these turkeys whilst breaking the law themselves, and potentially giving lawyers a easy out in court?
    I would suggest that if there is to be no tolerance for speeding then all vehicles on the road need to have the same speed limit, and attention needs to be given to those vehicles that are holding up traffic. Failing to pull over and let traffic past needs to be dealt with, with the same enthusiasm as excess speed.