On Friday evening I drove down state highway 1 from Totara, south of Oamaru, to Invercargill.
Traffic was heavy and the journey was made worse by slow vehicles whose drivers showed absolutely no consideration for those following them.
A couple of times it was the second vehicle in line which was the problem – it’s driver didn’t take opportunities to pass but kept too close to the slow one in front to enable anyone behind to pass them separately.
At one stage I was eighth in line travelling at between 70 and 80 kph for more than 10 kilometres before we got to a passing lane which enabled the first five vehicles to pass. It was another six kilometres before the remaining car in front of me and I were able to pass safely.
When I turned off the main road at Clinton I caught up on a four wheel drive vehicle travelling behind a car travelling at 90 kph which stayed in the right hand lane when we got to a passing lane.
I didn’t have to be in Invercargill by a particular time which helped me stay patient and not take silly risks but it wasn’t a pleasant drive and took more than half an hour longer than usual.
Yesterday evening I drove up state highway 6 from Invercargill to Queenstown then over the Crown Range to Wanaka. Traffic was much lighter but drivers were also more considerate. The few times I caught up on slower vehicles they slowed at the start of a straight stretch to allow me to pass.
The trip took a little more than three hours – and I wasn’t speeding. Not having to slow down made it a faster, and much more pleasant, journey.
Moaning about road congestion in the south of the South Island is a bit like complaining to Australians about dry weather. Many roads further north are worse than those in the south and have a lot more traffic.
But regardless of the state of the roads and number of vehicles, consideration for other drivers makes travelling safer and more pleasant.