Road safety

So about that zero tolerance policy huh?

The Police have maintained an incredible focus on road safety and speeding with their zero tolerance policy.

They deploy speed cameras on motorways where there is a dual carraige-way, with a median barrier and in some places in Auckland they are there every day.

And the result?

A 20% increase in road deaths.

The number of people killed on New Zealand roads so far this year is 20 per cent higher than at the same time last year.

The Ministry of Transport reported 95 people have been killed on the roads from January 1 to April 16 this year. In the same period last year, 79 people died on the roads. ¬† Read more »

Are we turning into a nation of traffic vigilantes?

More Kiwi drivers are taking the law into their own hands, with yet another tourist driver having their car keys snatched off them over the weekend.

The incident happened on the Otago Peninsula when two tourists stopped on the side of a narrow road to take a photo, holding up eight cars behind them, the Otago Daily Timesreports.

Dunedin man Robert Penman, who was travelling with his son, told the paper he was moved to act because he had “been in a head-on crash before and I don’t want to be in another one”.

He said he did not believe it was safe to overtake the car, and tried tooting at the couple several times to get them to move on.
When they finally continued driving they were travelling around 20km/h, he said.

Mr Penman called the police and blocked the couple’s exit when they turned into a driveway, at which point an altercation occurred.

“When he started to push me, I went around to the driver’s side and grabbed the keys, and I said ‘you are not going anywhere’,” Mr Penman said.

Southern District acting road policing manager Senior Sergeant Steve Larking told theOtago Daily Times he spoke to both Mr Penman and the tourists, with the foreign drivers being given information about where to park safely and Mr Penman told to “calm down”. Read more »

Can Auckland Transport get anything right?

Auckland Transport has stuffed up again, rooting up one of the simplest jobs they have, providing adequate and readable signage for motorists.

New signs peppering streets around Auckland’s Dominion Rd may have to be “re-skinned” to make them easier for motorists to read, the city’s transport authority admits.

Auckland Transport said yesterday that some drivers had complained lettering on the dark blue “way-finding” signs is not large enough for them to make out.

“Initial feedback is that the typeface … is too small, particularly if you are driving,” said marketing general manager Mike Loftus. “This is certainly something we will be reviewing.”

But he said the signs were designed so they could be re-skinned with larger type if necessary, rather than replaced at greater cost.

Although they were introduced primarily to point to a 12km network of routes developed for $5.9 million as safer cycling alternatives to busy Dominion Rd, they have replaced larger street signs in a number of locations. Those include four intersections along Dominion Rd.

The larger – more legible – versions will remain in storage during a trial by Auckland Transport and other council organisations to develop a standard wayfaring sign to point to community facilities throughout the Super City.

Mr Loftus said the budget covered about 100 signs and route maps installed along the Grafton Gully cycleway as well as two sets of routes parallel to Dominion Rd, for which contractors have also installed speed bumps, pathways and boardwalks, leaving only a bridge to be erected in Mt Roskill’s War Memorial Park.

Read more »

Garner is onto it with road safety

Duncan Garner talks about the focus on foriegn drivers and the silly ideas to force them to sit tests upon arrival.

Another horror holiday road toll, another round of national angst about foreign drivers.

It must be every motorist’s worst nightmare – rounding a corner to see more than 1000kg of metal hurtling towards you on your side of the road (regardless of the other driver’s ethnicity).

Are we being racist when it comes to foreign drivers? At first glance the numbers suggest there’s good reason for concern.

In 2013 overseas drivers were involved in at least 558 crashes resulting in death or injury. It may have been as high as 800 crashes according to the Transport Agency but they don’t collect data from every crash.

In three-quarters of the incidents, the foreigners were found at fault. Eleven of the crashes were fatal.

Grim reading. But it’s pretty clear the Government isn’t going to buckle and force visitors to sit some sort of driving test before they grab the keys to a rental car and set off on the open road.

Some safety advocates want travellers banned from renting cars unless they pass an online driving test. Some have called for drivers to sit a practical test. But that’s just not “practical” is it?

Where are these people meant to do it? Drive a car around a busy airport car park? And really, how effective would it be.

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Police think it is “shocking” finding people under the new alcohol limit?

I’m starting to wonder about the Police communications strategy.

In just three hours at three different locations in the CBD last night, a team led by Sergeant Chris Painter issued 12 tickets for using cellphones while driving; 22 to “at risk drivers” breaching their licence conditions; 15 to drivers exceeding the speed limit, including 12 doing 11km or more over it; and 14 to drivers for intersection offences such as running red lights or ignoring stop signs.

As well, said Mr Painter, one driver was over the legal alcohol limit, and a “shocking” 34 were just under it.

Why is it “shocking” that people were under the limit…if their blitz was a month ago they would have ben well under the limit…now the limit has dropped and these drivers are still under it…and that is “shocking”?

What drugs are these cops taking? ¬†¬† Read more »

du Fresne: Police burned off goodwill with their zero tolerance scam

Karl du Fresne thinks the Police have well over stepped the mark with their zero tolerance scam run these past holidays.

In fact he says it failed.

Human nature is a perverse thing. It consistently thwarts all attempts to coerce us into behaving the way bureaucrats, politicians and assorted control freaks think we should.

Take the road toll. Since early December New Zealanders have been subjected to a ceaseless barrage of police propaganda about the futility of trying to defy speed and alcohol limits.

Stern-looking police officers have been in our faces almost daily, warning that zero tolerance would be shown to lawbreakers. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has found their lecturing increasingly tiresome and patronising.

Of course the police can claim the best possible justification for all this finger-wagging: it’s about saving lives. But what was the result? The road toll for the holiday period was more than double those of the previous two years. For the full year, the toll was up by 44 on the record low of 2013.

The figures suggest that people crash for all manner of reasons, and that the emphasis on speed and alcohol is therefore simplistic. The police focus on speed and booze because these are easy targets, and when the road toll comes down they can take the credit.

In the ideal world envisaged by ever-hopeful bureaucrats, wayward citizens can be managed much as sheep are controlled by heading dogs. But people will never be harangued into driving safely; human nature is just too contrary.

Besides, police crackdowns are only one factor in achieving a lower road toll.

Improved road design, safer cars, better-equipped emergency services and more immediate medical attention all contribute too. It would be interesting to know, for example, how many lives have been saved because of the use of helicopters to get victims promptly to hospital.

Given that their heavy-handed propaganda campaign appears to have had minimal effect, I wonder if the police will now be humble enough to sit down and review their tactics.

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AA gets it right, stop taxing our motorways with speed cameras

The AA has called for Police to stop targeting soft speeding on relatively safe roads.

Almost half of all tickets from speeding cameras are given out in Auckland, prompting the Automobile Association to urge the police to ease up on targeting low-level speedsters on Auckland motorways and instead focus on higher-risk roads around the country.

The cameras and a decision to lower, over holiday breaks, the usual 4km/h tolerance – and this season even to scrap it – have resulted in a boom in tickets. Twenty-six thousand more were issued each month last year on average than in 2009. That is despite police saying average speeds have dropped.

Last year, an average of 82,000 speeding tickets were issued each month, compared to 56,000 five years before. Much of the increase is down to the crackdown on low-level speeding over holiday periods.

The Police say it isn’t revenue gathering but it is. And Auckland with its extensive motorway network is being targeted as an easy get.

AA spokesman Mike Noon questioned whether focusing on drivers doing just over the limit on relatively safe urban motorways was the best strategy.

“Focusing on low-level speeding on the motorways, we think, is maybe not very beneficial. We’d prefer more focus on higher-risk areas, such as people speeding on State Highway 27 or between Turangi and Taupo.

“We get a bit concerned if there’s too much focus on low-speed tolerances on motorways, particularly since some of those motorways, we think, may move to 110km/h, to reflect the safety of them.”

Read more »

Why do the Police keep insisting speed kills?

Yet again the Police are in the media claiming that speed kills.

It doesn’t.

There are literally thousands of race car drivers who are still alive who can attest tot he fact that speed doesn’t kill.

What kills is stupidity, and sudden stops into hard objects.

But the Police keep on insisting speed kills.

When you look at their examples too you find that in one of them that speed didn’t kill, in fact the driver is still alive.

One man was detected driving 240kmh on the Waikato Expressway before he was pulled over.

“This speed is simply reckless,” said Grace.

She said that at that speed it would take 12 seconds and 450 meters to stop – given that the vehicle was in good condition of course.

“If you are travelling at this speed, and something untoward happens up to 450 meters in front of you – the chances of you being involved in a collision are high.”

Read more »

Get those foreign killers off the road

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After plowing into the locals for years while we stand idly by in fear of losing someone a tourist dollar, there is some movement.  Maybe.

Police may get the power to ban erratic tourist drivers from the roads as concern grows about the number of fatalities involving overseas drivers.

The death of motorcyclist Grant Roberts left two young boys without a father. They have taken a petition to Parliament asking to make it tougher for tourists to drive here.

Mr Roberts was one of two motorcyclists killed when a young Chinese woman lost control of her car.

Christchurch coroner Richard McElrea¬†investigated the accident and has called for police to be given powers to ban drivers who show a “demonstrable lack of ability”.

Associate Transport Minister Craig Foss is interested in the idea.

“We’re considering all the options that the coroner’s put to us,” he says. “That recommendation in particular I’m interested in and I’ll be talking to the Minister of Police about that one.”

We have to have a better balance where we value the safety of others over the bottom line of tourist operators just a little more.

Read more »

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Don’t be a statistic

Just a bit of a public service notice I guess, but the Police are implementing their reduced 4 km/h tolerance for this Queen’s Birthday weekend.

Officials are aiming for another fatality-free Queen’s Birthday weekend on the roads and police are warning motorists they will be enforcing stricter speed tolerances and breath-testing just about everybody they stop.

The “Make it to Monday” campaign was launched in Wellington this week, and 254 pairs of shoes were displayed to represent the 254 road deaths in 2013.

Despite 64 injury-causing crashes, no one died on the roads during last year’s Queen’s Birthday Weekend, which road safety agencies are asking all road users to once again strive for.

“Buckling your safety belt, driving at a safe speed and not drinking and driving are three of the most basic, life-saving choices that every motorist has the power to make this Queen’s Birthday weekend,” said road policing Assistant Commissioner Dave Cliff.

Already this year, crashes have claimed the lives of 125 people – 24 more than at the same time last year.
In the vast majority of cases, alcohol, speed and not wearing safety belts were factors. Read more »