Dangerous driving – what should you do?

A couple of weeks ago a reader emailed us about a friend’s frightening experience. While taking his two year-old son to daycare, a driver took angry exception to his riding in the centre of the lane through a pinch point.

The chap posted about it on Vorb, asking what he should have done about the driver’s behaviour. Nobody seemed particularly sure of the right course of action, so I think it’s worth clarifying.

According to the Police website, you should call 111 and ask for Police when:

  • Someone is badly injured or in danger.
  • There’s a serious risk to life or property.
  • A crime is being committed and the offenders are still there or have just left.
  • You’ve come across a major public inconvenience, like trees blocking a state highway.
  • Any of these things are happening now or have just happened.

The website goes on to say that if you can’t decide whether it’s a real emergency and you’re still worried, call 111 and ask. They’ll help you work out what to do.

You can see that angry, threatening behaviour would probably fall into the second point, and depending on the circumstances, the first.

As well, section 35 of the Land Transport Act 1998 states:

(1) A person commits an offence if the person—

  • (a) operates a motor vehicle recklessly on a road; or
  • (b) drives or causes a motor vehicle to be driven on a road at a speed or in a manner which, having regard to all the circumstances, is or might be dangerous to the public or to a person; or […]

Now, obviously you’re unlikely to have your lawyer handy when something like this happens, but you can make a judgement call as to whether you think the driving was reckless. If you think it was, then a crime is probably being committed (see point 3 of the Police list above) and you should call 111 straight away.

Just because we’re used to bad driving, it doesn’t mean we have to put up with it.

Bottom line is – if another road user does something that gives you a fright, call 111. If it’s not the right thing to do, they’ll help you work out what the right thing is.


11 thoughts on “Dangerous driving – what should you do?

  1. Someone on the Vorb thread expressed doubt about the effect of filling out those forms they send you when you make a complaint to the police via *555. Last time I did this the culprit crashed a red light while my daughter and I were crossing with the green man. He got a visit from the cops, a fine and demerit points, and felt moved to write an apology. It’s definitely worth making a complaint.


  2. Lisa

    Good to know!
    Yeah I’m generally in favour of paperwork. Anything that gets the data logged is worthwhile because once you have data you can use it – whether it’s the organisation using it for stats, or CAN making OIA requests, or the victim using it to follow up and get some action. Records are good!


  3. atom

    the only thing better than filing an official complaint and creating an official record is providing VIDEO. traffic cops in wellington are generally overburdened and find it hard to prioritize (or even follow up on) complaints made by cyclists. too often i’ve heard cops say “well, there’s nothing we can do. it’s just your word against theirs.” NO MORE!! small video cameras are getting cheaper and better every day.

    there have been too many cases in NZ of cyclists being victims of hit-n-run, and no one ever seems to catch the drivers. while i certainly hope to never get hit, a rear camera makes it likely that any car close enough to hit me can be positively identified. of course, with my luck, it would have been reported stolen the day before :/

    it would be nice if the cops actually issued tickets for overtly dangerous/inconsiderate driving, but for now it seems i’m at least getting a few official warnings issued. those, i’m told, will stay on a drivers record.


    lisa – i’ve got a blank template for the wellington traffic incident report form, in electronic format. makes it very convenient to fill out on a computer, print, sign, and drop it off at the nearest police station. let me know if you want to make it available for download.


  4. Lisa

    Sure thing, Don. I had a bit of trouble finding information on *555, which is why I didn’t include it initially. I have more info now, but I’d like to confirm one or two things with the police before I post on it. I’ll get something up on the site shortly.

    Atom has kindly sent through a soft copy of the Traffic Incident Report form (for when you don’t want to call 111) and that can be downloaded from cyclingwellington.co.nz/really-useful


  5. Hillbilly MTB

    I could imagine the skepticism of police when describing the culprit of a near death cycling experience as a bright yellow bus with the words ‘Go Wellington’ emblazoned down the side.
    They do offer an internal complaint service providing that you actually survive to submit one, but like a lot of wellington streets I feel its one way and mostly up hill …


  6. Hillbilly MTB

    I guess I had this strange notion that someone actually read the go bus feedback, as for the police – I think they have bigger fish to fry rather than my crusade against those box yellow road bullies.
    Anyways we can all feel content that we are free to ride however and where ever we like regardless of how many fed up and frustrated drivers try to deny you of that – I know I do …


  7. good citizin

    i know a person who lost his licenece for drinking and driving and he stil drive his car wat shall i do to make him stop, i can leed the police to get him while he is driving the worest case is he picks his tow kids and drive them around while he is drank? please who do i complain to?


  8. Lisa

    What a tough situation for you to be in.

    I think it’s worth calling the police, because he’s putting people in danger. If you see him doing it, call 111. In the meantime, how about going in to your local police station and talking with one of the officers? I’m sure they’ll be glad to discuss the situation with you.

    If you can, talk to your friend about it. If you feel you can’t speak directly, how about writing to him? Writing can be a good way to deal with uncomfortable situations because it lets him know you’re concerned about his behaviour without losing your temper – or having to deal with your friend losing his. And letters can carry more weight, making people realise you’re serious.

    Good luck! And good on you.


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