Groups of cars block intersections for limos, ride on bonnets at school balls

Dubby Henry and Amy Wiggins, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Wed, 19 May 2021, 2:16PM

Groups of cars block intersections for limos, ride on bonnets at school balls

Dubby Henry and Amy Wiggins, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Wed, 19 May 2021, 2:16PM

A dangerous new school ball trend is seeing huge convoys of cars with blaring music blocking intersections for limousines as they "escort" students to the venue while people ride on the bonnets or hang out windows, according to a limo company owner.

The Herald has received video footage of young people riding on the bonnets of cars as they swerve dangerously in and out of traffic on the way to the Westlake Girls' school ball at Eden Park last weekend - behaviour police have described as reckless.

And an Auckland limousine company owner says it appears to be part of a new and dangerous trend that feels like part of a The Fast and The Furious movie.

The news comes as Eden Park announced it would no longer be taking school ball bookings after residents complained of loud stereos, revving cars and motorbikes and a traffic jam around the Sandringham Rd entrance as students arrived for the Auckland Girls' Grammar School ball on Friday.

A party bus driver, who sent in footage which was taken by a colleague on her bus, said she was taking about 40 boys and girls to the Westlake Girls' ball at Eden Park the following night when her bus was suddenly cut off by about 30 cars on Sandringham Rd.

"They were just speeding past me with people on the bonnets of cars, on the roofs of cars, really dangerously driving and cutting in front of me," said the driver, who refused to be named.

When she got "super duper" stuck she jumped out of the bus to ask what they were doing. She was told the car occupants were headed for the ball - and to "piss off".

"It was quite an aggressive atmosphere so I thought I should just shut my mouth and get back in the bus."

The driver was unable to manoeuvre the double-decker bus safely to the drop off point, so instead had to leave the students further away from the entrance with a security guard.

"I was scared. All these girls and guys in beautiful outfits had to walk through all this mayhem."

A Westlake Girls' spokeswoman said nobody was late to the ball and no complaints or issues had been raised with the school.

The owner of an Auckland limousine company, who also asked not to be identified, said he and his drivers had witnessed similar behaviour in a "trend" which started about a year ago.

In December he was driving a limo to a school ball at Ellerslie Convention Centre when one of the students asked him to stop at a petrol station.

A car raced up and its driver told the student "they are all lined up".

The limo continued on its way only to find at least 20 cars ready to "escort" them to the ball.

"They basically create their own escort," he said. "I got on to the motorway and then I had about 20 cars who were surrounding me and basically escorting me through.

"They attempted to block lights off so I could go through traffic lights without stopping - obviously I don't do that.

"The music is so loud on their cars, they have people hanging out the sunroofs and out the windows. It's just a huge circus."

He compared the experience to The Fast and The Furious movies with cars blocking all the lanes behind and around him on the motorway so no one else could pass and trying to close down intersections.

He said as they approached the convention centre passengers rode on the bonnets of cars and sat on the back windows with their torso completely outside the car.

"The risk is just huge," he said. "All it takes is one moment of poor judgment or a bad habit from another driver and it can wipe them out. It can definitely have dire consequences from those who are playing silly buggers."

He said he and his drivers had experienced the same thing about half a dozen times in the past year and he was considering sending out pilot vehicles fitted with dashcams to follow his drivers when they had ball bookings.

"Our vehicles cost a fortune and we need to make sure there are no silly buggers," he said. "My drivers' safety comes first."

Auckland City Road Policing manager Inspector George Fanamanu said on both Friday and Saturday night police received a number of complaints about excessive noise and dangerous driving.

"Police are disappointed in the behaviour that was exhibited by a number of offending vehicles. In many cases it was reckless and could have resulted in serious injuries."

He said officers were sent to "monitor the situation" after the complaints were received and they were trying to identify the people and cars involved while considering follow-up action.

Fanamanu said the behaviour was "concerning" although police were not aware of the behaviour becoming a trend at school balls.

With more school balls scheduled this weekend, police said they were not planning to be present at the venues but would again monitor and respond to concerns and complaints.

He asked those with information or videos of last weekend's antics to report it to police on 105 and encouraged people to report reckless driving to police as soon as possible.