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Zero tolerance on speeding drivers all year round as cops get tough on motorists

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Zero tolerance on speeding drivers all year round as cops get tough on motorists

Road police have scrapped their speed buffer on roads in favour of a no tolerance approach. All motorists edging over the limit at any time of the year can now expect to be pulled over and possibly fined, national road policing manager Acting Superintendent Gini Welch confirmed on Friday. It brings an end to a…

Zero tolerance on speeding drivers all year round as cops get tough on motorists

Road police have scrapped their speed buffer on roads in favour of a no tolerance approach.

All motorists edging over the limit at any time of the year can now expect to be pulled over and possibly fined, national road policing manager Acting Superintendent Gini Welch confirmed on Friday.

It brings an end to a long-standing convention that law enforcement would let minor speeding breaches slide.

“We don’t have a threshold,” Welch told Stuff, “we don’t have anything other than the speed limit.

“That’s what we will enforce.”

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But road safety campaigners doubt the no-tolerance approach will be effective, labelling it “petty, vindictive and ineffective”.

Previously, besides zero tolerance long weekends, it was understood police could exercise discretion up to 10kmh over the speed limit.

That buffer does not exist any more.

“If you travel above the posted speed limit, you can expect to be stopped and subjected to intervention such as engagement, education and enforcement,” Welch said.

Mike Yardley says New Zealand’s road policing authorities seem to have decided targeting mean speed on our roads is the best way of bringing down the crash rate and reducing injuries and fatalities.

Simon O’Connor/Stuff

Mike Yardley says New Zealand’s road policing authorities seem to have decided targeting mean speed on our roads is the best way of bringing down the crash rate and reducing injuries and fatalities.

By targeting the average mean speed, research shows it will reduce crashes and reduce the severity of crashes, she said.

“There’s lots of evidence to suggest if you target that bracket of 1 to 10kmh above the posted speed limit, that [has] the greatest impact on reducing the mean speed across the region.

“If you reduce the average mean speed, that reduces crashes and the severity of those crashes.

“Reducing speed reduces the severity of crashes – it’s an undeniable truth,” she said.

Road police in Waikato have already embraced the no tolerance approach. The number of speeding tickets given to drivers in the region going up to 5kmh over the limit has soared.

In 2019, there were 30 officer-issued speeding tickets in that bracket, information released to Stuff under the Official Information Act shows.

But from January 1 until July 31 in 2020, there have already been 103.

The next highest region was Counties Manukau, with 10.

Road safety campaigner Clive Matthew-Wilson said this zero tolerance approach would pointlessly alienate ordinary motorists without solving the real problem.

“The current police anti-speeding campaign will never lower the road toll, because it’s targeting the average motorist rather than the high-risk groups.

“That’s like trying to stop bank robberies by targeting shoplifting.”

He said it was actually quite hard to maintain a steady speed in modern turbo-charged cars.

“As soon as you take your foot off the accelerator, your speed drops right back.

“As soon as you accelerate, it’s very easy to be over the speed limit in seconds.

NZ Transport Agency data shows speeding alone contributes to 15 per cent of crashes.

Clive Matthew-Wilson/Supplied

NZ Transport Agency data shows speeding alone contributes to 15 per cent of crashes.

“Cruise control is supposed to maintain a constant speed, but our tests have shown that, when driving down steep hills, your vehicle can creep well over the speed limit, without the driver even noticing.”

Speed advisory signs, which simply show motorists what speed they’re doing without issuing a ticket, was favoured by Matthew-Wilson.

“That’s how they do it in Sweden, which has the world’s lowest road toll.”

Yet Welch said there was so much evidence that proved targeting the mean speed was the right thing to do to keep people safe on the roads.

By reducing your speed from 110 to 100kmh, it reduces the fatal crash risk by more than 30 per cent, Welch said.

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“This is why we are pretty unapologetic.”

She said they did not factor public perception into their ticketing decision-making.

“By and large the public expect us to do our job and the job is if people are exceeding the speed limit, we do something about it.”

Stuff



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