For a few years the police have been reducing the tolerance for people travelling over the speed limit during public holiday periods from 10km/h to 4km/h in a bid to reduce crashes. Now they plan to go further and remove the tolerance all together.
Motorists driving anywhere over the posted speed limit could land themselves a fine, as police do away with the notion of a “speed tolerance” for the summer period – a move that could be made permanent.
Police announced their “Reach the Beach” summer road safety campaign yesterday, the first to come without a 4km/h tolerance since Queen’s Birthday weekend in 2010.
Commissioner Mike Bush said drivers needed to forget the old message of a tolerance for driving less than 5km/h above the speed limit. “Do not drive at anything over the limit. That is a focus for us.”
He said it would be up to individual officers to decide whether to issue tickets for drivers caught driving only a small amount above the limit.
“It will depend upon the circumstances and our officers have always had discretion.”
Mr Bush said drivers often set their cruise control to what they believed the tolerance was, for example 110 km/h.
He advised drivers to set their cruise control to the limit, or just below, as any speed above the posted limit would warrant an infringement.
The zero tolerance could be a permanent part of road policing, Mr Bush said.
“We’ll assess that at the end of the campaign, but I can’t see us changing our approach on that.”
Although police would not be following a 4km/h tolerance this summer, speed cameras will have a threshold of 4km/h during December and January.
Last year’s Safer Summer campaign introduced a speed tolerance of 4km/h above the speed limit for all of December and January, rather than just over the Christmas and New Year period. Police reported a 36 per cent decrease in drivers exceeding the speed limit by 1-10km/h and a 45 per cent decrease for speeding in excess of 10km/h.
Fatal crashes decreased by 22 per cent over the summer campaign. Serious injury crashes decreased by 8 per cent.
Whether it will work and how hard it’s enforced is obviously yet to be seen however regardless it’s a move that is bound to generate plenty of letters to editors of papers all around the country.
What’s interesting from that article is also that Police minister and former Associate Transport Minister says he believes New Zealand could soon be realistic in setting a goal of zero road deaths. That’s definitely a worthy ambition but to get to that point there’s still a lot to do. So far this year 266 people have died on our roads which compares with 228 this time last year. In fact NZ’s total 2013 road toll was a record low 254 so we’ve already surpassed that.
Perhaps one thing that the police should do is crack down on cellphone use with 20% admitting they still text and drive.
The Drivers Index survey asked 1000 regular Kiwi drivers aged 18 and older to rate 12 distractions and found that while 84 per cent of respondents regarded texting and reading distracting, one in five Kiwis still send text messages while driving – with almost 50 per cent of younger drivers (18-24 years) flouting the law.
“Despite being illegal, texting remains the top driver distraction for the fourth consecutive year, while reading has risen from second position since last year,” said Amelia Macandrew of AA Insurance.
“Distractions are a major cause of accidents, with 10 per cent of drivers surveyed admitting they’d crashed because they were distracted.”
National Manager Road Policing, Superintendent Carey Griffiths said that between 2010-2012, driver distraction or “diverted attention” was a factor in around 11 per cent of fatal crashes, and 10 per cent of serious crashes.
“That represents 99 people killed and almost 5000 people injured over the three-year period.”
Mr Griffiths said it was disappointing that despite legislation banning drivers from using cellphones being in place since 2009, too many people are still choosing to put themselves and other innocent road users at risk.
“Given that we are now several years down the track, we don’t see any excuses for people still failing to comply with this legislation, and police will continue to target driver distraction and other forms of risky behaviour as appropriate.”
I’m constantly both amazed and scared at the number of people I see using their phone while driving, especially through intersections and I’m sure most people have some pretty bad examples that they’ve seen.