The best post on the failed road toll campaign of the weekend

Peter Cresswell is perhaps one of the best thinkers in the NZ Blogosphere. Today he has a post on the failure of the Police campaign to scare us into driving safely on the long weekend.

Eight people killed on the roads over one long weekend is a tragedy.

The tragedy of this weekend’s road toll is that police were led to pursue a flawed traffic policing policy this holiday weekend on the basis of believing their own headlines.

They were put off by the statistical anomaly of Queens Birthday weekend, when a weekend with no deaths on the roads followed the announcement for that weekend of a traffic policing policy of “zero tolerance” for speed. (A policy that also generated a huge uptick in revenue.)

All the authorities trumpeted that the policy caused the triumph with the road toll. They were so certain they re-imposed the policy this weekend, and re-ran all the ads and notices warning motorists to watch out for policemen watching them.

But they forgot that correlation is not causality.

Trying to convince drivers that speed is everything—that driving a few kph over the speed limit is going to kill us all—and convinced themselves by their own publicity, they  succeeded only in fooling themselves, and being surprised this morning at a number they thought they had no right to expect.

Eight people killed is a tragedy.  Perhaps some of those drivers might not have died if police over the weekend had focussed on dangerous driving instead of sitting on their bums to collect revenue from motorists driving a few kph over the speed limit.

A serious re-think over the focus on speed alone needs to be done in PNHQ. Focusing on speed fails the logic test, especially on a weekend where the weather was good and the roads were dry.

Accidents do happen and for a whole lot of reasons, not all of them are because of speed. The Police need to realise this, unless of course their big focus is for revenue reasons rather than for safety reasons.

It also stands to reason that there is an inherent number of deaths that will always be associated with roading and driving. We must surely be approaching that number of annualised roading deaths now, meaning that spending millions advertising to stop more deaths will do nothing. In fact the case can be argued that non-governmental initiatives like side intrusion beams, air-bags, collapsible steering columns, better suspension, better roading technologies and crumple zones have done more to alleviate road deaths than any government advertising campaigns.

Peter Cresswell raising an interesting point about the thinking of the Police. That if “the statistical anomaly of Queens Birthday weekend, when a weekend with no deaths on the roads followed the announcement for that weekend of a traffic policing policy of “zero tolerance” for speed is correct” then now the reverse must be true, that putting more Police out on the roads actually caused more accidents.

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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.