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.”

If you regularly drive the Northern Motorway it isn’t unusual for there to be at least two speed camera vans between Silverdale and Onewa road. Both top spots are just after a bend, hidden behind berms and trees. Both locations are not black spots, it is nothing short of pure revenue gathering.

The other spot they like is at the bottom of the big hill just after Oteha Valley heading north. It is a long, long, long piece of dead straight road with a gentle bend at the end sweeping up past the BP road Stop. There is no danger on that piece of road, it is simply a revenue gathering exercise…and every single day in December leading up to Christmas those three cameras were in operation at some point…mostly at least two of them.

Here is the real kicker though…we have an open road speed limit of 100km/h…and police actions have now driven the average speed on the open road to around 95km/h.

Mr Cliff said while more people were being caught speeding, they were not speeding by as much. Open-road mean speeds had dropped from 102.3km/h in 1996 to 95.7km/h in 2013. Urban speeds had also dropped, from 56.5km/h in 1996 to 51.7km/h in 2013.

All they have achieved is slowing people down, not actually reducing the road toll, and in the process increased by a substantial amount the time people spend driving because they are now going slower…increasing driver tiredness as a result. A drive from Auckland to Napier now takes at least another 20 minutes, despite road improvements.

On top of that the fuel efficiency of vehicles would be significantly affected as well. Well done to the Police. Not actually saving lives, slowing down traffic, increasing driving times and revenue gathering off of Auckland’s motorways.



– NZ Herald


THANK YOU for being a subscriber. Because of you Whaleoil is going from strength to strength. It is a little known fact that Whaleoil subscribers are better in bed, good looking and highly intelligent. Sometimes all at once! Please Click Here Now to subscribe to an ad-free Whaleoil.

  • Blue Tim

    It’s about time the AUTOMOBILE ASSOCIATION advocated for it’s members the automobile drivers of NZ instead of parroting the police line and trying to peddle crap merchandise on me.

    • Chris EM

      Back in the day, they produced a motoring magazine, now it’s just a travel brochure which goes straight into the recycling.

      • Blue Tim

        I tick the box for it not to be sent

        • Chris EM

          I didn’t know you could do that. Cheers.

    • sheppy

      Slightly off topic: is there another breakdown company in NZ apart from the AA? I’m considering getting a membership but I don’t like that the AA don’t usually stick up for motorists

      • gander

        State Insurance offers “Roadside Rescue”. I don’t know whether it’s available to non-insurance customers, though.

  • Korau

    A little over the speed limit or a dose of stupidity. Stupidity will get you every time.

    “A 24-year-old man is dead after the vehicle he was driving on Papamoa Beach last night rolled and trapped him.”

    “‘Driver behaviour, alcohol and failure to wear a seat belt are believed
    to be factors in this crash,’ Western BOP area commander Inspector
    Clifford Paxton said.”


    • OneTrack

      At least he wasn’t driving at 101kph. Phew.

    • sheppy

      So was he:
      A) just over the new alcohol limit and below the old one
      B) several times over the limit…

      Without reading the article fully I think I know the answer….

  • Bartman

    It’s not just in Auckland sadly – here in Chch I and my wife have contributed to the revenue gathering to the tune of $140 in 2014, spread over three low-speed tickets.
    One was even going up a steep hill, 3kph over the limit!
    Ridiculous and about time the politicians had a word in a few ears.

    • Rocket

      Just keep paying those voluntary taxes – reduces my tax.

      • Orange

        Nothing reduces tax :(

  • Sally

    The Northern motorway between Silverdale and Oteha Valley Road is one of the safest section of any motorway. It is the design of the road that makes it safe. I can’t even recall a fatal accident.
    The speed cameras are simply there for revenue collecting. I have travelled that section of the road for years and it is just a given that speed cameras will probably be there.

  • Orange

    I’m a bit confused about all this. Politicians like speeding and probably don’t like tickets. Police don’t get any of the substantial money raised from tickets because it goes straight to the Govt general fund, ie, the politicians. The idea someone would lean on the top cop to raise money sounds a little unlikely though. So do the politicians love money more than they love speeding? I doubt Helen would. On the other hand, the argument from the police that any tolerance just makes the defacto speed limit higher sounds very similar to the one that if there is no speed tolerance then that just makes the defacto speed limit lower (people having to travel considerably lower than the limit to avoid going even 1km over the hard limit). Regardless, a quarter of the entire population getting a ticket every year is not enforcement, it is taxation.

  • metalnwood

    I would be happy to see some information about the number of accidents in the vicinity of speed cameras Vs the revenue gathered.

    If there is a high number of incidents then I guess there is some cause to put a camera there to encourage slower driving.

    If on the other hand, a speed camera in a 50km zone at the bottom of an incline that does not see any speeding related incidents would be hard to justify for any other reason than to issue $80 tickets.

    • Fredd Dagg

      ‘Glory gathering’ which is really worse than Revenue gathering. The police don’t get the revenue so it is probably true that they don’t care about that, why should they.
      But they do need to show results to get funded… results being a ticket issued. The individual cop meets the guidelines and gets brownie points for future advancement. Can’t blame the cops for this, they work for a large bureaucracy which measures its results as offences detected and charged for.

  • caochladh

    They hardly apply the law in a fair an just manner. You are at the rear of a line of 100 or so vehicles travelling at say 104kph when you get plucked and pinged, but in essence all you were doing was keeping up with the flow of traffic. Surely, the fair and just thing to do would be to stop the vehicle at the front of the line and make everyone behind pull over, then ticket the whole 100 or so to be fair and just. Hang on a minute, I forgot – its all about law in this country, not justice so just carry on plucking us off the back of the line, thank you.

  • kloyd0306

    The current holiday road toll proves that speed is NOT the main issue. I am waiting for the police to admit that fact.

    • Bobb

      Good luck with that.

    • dgrogan

      I doubt they’ll admit it, but at least they’ve stopped harping on about it for now – realising that we’re not buying into it.

  • Michael_l_c

    Just look at the newspapers. Tauranga has a fatal crash monthly. Consider what the population is there. Now how many fatals are there on the northern motorway?
    Now supt cliff explain the logic for the speed cameras on the northern motorway.
    Somehow I doubt you will.
    At the same time will he accept that the negligence of the police, in not positioning resources correctly in rural areas, contributed to the high death toll?

    • Dave

      Oh, how cynical of me, but what are the chances of fines being paid on the locals using the Northern Motorway, compared to a speed camera in Otara? No further comment needed.

  • Bill H.

    I have some knowledge of the “system”. There is no quota. If you are below the average though your annual performance payment could suffer. I assume part of the superintendents contract is to bring the road toll down. His performance pay would also suffer if this target is not attained. Excessive fines are just a consequence of the “system”. My involvement concluded sometime back although although I can’t see things changing.

    • I know a few cops…there is no “quota” but there are “road policing targets”

      • Stuarts.burgers

        Was it not one motorist contact per hour at one stage.
        How do you keep a check on that requirement hey easy count the tickets issued.
        6 hours on patrol means 6 motorists should be spoken to how to prove that ,6 tickets written does that for you.
        See no quota just a activity measuring device.

  • RightofSingapore

    Is a “successful” revenue camera one that issues many fines or one that issues few fines? Thats what needs to be asked of the Police

    • Michael_l_c

      A successful drink drive checkpoint detects zero drivers over the limit. The zero proves the tactics are working. Not sure about 11am suburban Auckland today. But I doubt the police would allow that to get in the way of a good story.

  • andrewo

    The AA says: “Focusing on low-level speeding on the motorways, we think, is maybe not very beneficial”

    You think???

    Maybe it’s about time we formed a more potent voice for the motorist because clearly the AA is little more than a lapdog.

  • There seems to be the impression that 1km over the limit will get you a speeding fine. Here is an extract from the Police web site that sets out the policy clearly:
    “Police enforce speed limits set by central and local government. We use a
    range of tools including mobile and fixed speed cameras, radar and laser
    speed detection devices, high visibility patrols and traffic stops.

    Police decisions about speed enforcement are based on evidence. You
    might feel safe driving a few kilometres over the limit but extensive
    research from New Zealand and overseas shows a small increase in speed
    raises the crash risk for all road users.

    In general, the speed limit for cars on main rural roads and
    motorways is 100km/h, and 50km/h on urban roads – unless signs say
    otherwise. However, driving safely means driving to the conditions.
    ‘Conditions’ doesn’t just mean the weather – it includes the road you’re
    on, the roadside around you, traffic conditions, your vehicle and load,
    and even you – for example, are you tired or on medication that affects
    your driving?

    Driving faster than the posted speed limit is illegal. Police have
    the discretion to issue you with a speeding infringement notice
    (speeding ticket) if you drive at any speed over the limit.

    If you are caught by a police officer or speed camera driving more
    than 10km/h over the limit, you can expect to be issued with an
    infringement notice.

    In some circumstances, you are liable to get a speeding ticket if you drive more than 4km/h over the limit:

    School zones – within 250m of school and preschool boundaries.

    During official holiday periods – these are publicised in the media and on this website.

    Enforcement when overtaking

    Police understand the frustration caused by slower drivers who speed
    up when entering passing lanes, but this does not create an excuse or
    mandate for exceeding the posted speed limit. While police take a more
    pragmatic approach when enforcing speed on passing lanes, the few
    seconds saved passing an irritating vehicle are simply not worth the

    What to do If you witness inconsiderate driving behaviour – *555 and Roadwatch

    Why is the speeding threshold lower at holiday weekends?
    A lowered threshold for official holiday periods was introduced at
    Queen’s Birthday Weekend, 2010. It is intended to slow and calm traffic
    at these busy times, resulting in an overall reduction in crashes and
    road trauma”

    • Yeah and at one particular passing lane heading north the pricks sit right at the end of it pinging anyone overtaking in the area designed for the practice….the consequence of this is long lines of people too afraid of the the police sitting behind a complete waste of space doing 85 getting more and more steamed.

      • Not Clinically Insane

        I saw that very thing TWICE yesterday on the haul home. Its pathetic and of no purpose than for cash!

    • Yeah, right, whatever…

      Thank you for your infomercial from the NZ Police Revenue Gathering Dept

  • The Whinging Pom

    How about limiting police speed traps to places where there has been a fatal accident within the last 10 years?

    If they did this no one could accuse them of merely revenue gathering, and by concentrating on known black spots they’d be tackling road safety far more effectively than sitting at the end of overtaking lanes like vultures ready to pick off anyone who strayed over 100kph in an effort to get past some old geezer who’d been holding them up for the past 30 kms.

  • Yeah, right, whatever…

    The premise that speed = higher road toll is simply not supported by fact.
    Until recently I was a resident of Germany where about 65% of the motorway system has no speed limit whatsoever and the remainder a limit between 120-130kph.
    It is my personal experience, when legally travelling at, say 200kph, to have a constant stream of cars passing me, mostly with a margin of around 20-50kph. And the majority of them are not Ferraris or Lambo’s but rather they’re large family cars with the designed ability to travel safely at such speeds.
    Using the NZ premise that speed = higher road toll one would expect German roads to be knee deep in dead & dying motorists. Sorry but simply not so. In fact the German road fatality statistics per 100k inhabitants per year is around 40% LOWER than NZ’s.
    And for other European countries that do have speed limits (usually between 120-130kph) the statistics are almost identical.
    Thus the suggestion that 100kph is safe and 101kph is dangerous is a complete & total nonsense and, along with the recent alcohol change, nothing more or less than revenue gathering, pure and simple.

    • andrewo

      Go talk to a road transport scientist and he will confirm what you’re saying. The two main causes of traffic accidents according to the REAL experts are: (hold your breath) incompetence and inattention.

      The police database on motor vehicle accidents isn’t worth a toss either because it is geared toward an adversarial approach rather than cause analysis. In other words their sole objective is charge someone for an offence rather than rationally identify causes. They will avoid identifying multiple causes because it undermines their case in court when in truth most accidents are multi-factorial.

    • HR

      I agree but would point out that the way the roads are built in Germany is substantially better than they way they are built here. Also they way they are resourced is brilliant, they really have the right idea. Think daily road inspection crews, adjustable speed limits to cope with inclement weather etc etc. We could learn a lot from how they do things, and perhaps invest some of the money collected from driving fines into better roads instead of into the Consolidated Fund.

  • Tom

    Who cares its Auckland. If the cops don’t get them, Len will. Maybe put the money into Auckland roading and stop expecting the rest of the country to pay for them.

  • Canucktoo

    The Police are dimwits!! In the face of overwhelming evidence they stick with the status quo. When will we ever get a Commissioner with brains?

  • MrHippo

    A crowd sourced navigation app like ‘Waze’ may be of some use. It allows users to note hazards, accidents or other impediments to traffic flow, whether they are ‘fixed’, ‘hidden’ or ‘visible’, and alerts you to these hazards while you drive making your journey safer.

  • AF

    So if the road toll went up in a year when the average speed reduced, this would imply there is no causation / correlation between the two. Admittedly the sample size is too small to make this call, but I would like to see some statistics on this – unlike that lemon guy who blogs about dogs and citrus fruit or some such thing with unfiltered uneducated streams of verbal diarrhoea, but I digress. If in successfully targeting speed, the Police have seen an increase in the annual road toll, is it not time to now focus on something else? Oh something like tourists keeping left, people not using cellphones, drivers actually following the road rules like stopping at stop signs and red lights etc? Maybe that’s too logical for the Police who continue to trot out what is a non-sequitur. Their logic simply does not follow.

  • I.M Bach

    I understand that there needs to be a speed limit but as roads improve then surely the limit could be increased, could it not? Having the same speed limit on the much-mentioned Northern Motorway (between Albany and Puhoi) and (say) the Whangamoa Hill just out of Nelson is lunacy. You can’t trust some people to drive to the conditions unfortunately. Part of the problem is removing the ability of the police to exercise discretion; fines are instant these days and they have ‘targets’ to meet. They are not much more than revenue gathering puppets. Having said that, if you don’t exceed 100kph you’re not likely to get a ticket. I’ve had heaps of speeding tickets, they make no difference at all. I choose my spot and don’t do dumb stuff, speed doesn’t kill, I’m living proof.

  • Not Clinically Insane

    They’d be far better off at this time year targeting campers, caravans, and boaties who can’t maintain a reasonable speed and fail to pull over. Thats a massive cause of annoyance and frustration that can lead to other things… Rather than a minor bit of speed

  • Sir Brucey

    The cops are enablers of burglars. When one gets a house burglary dismissed with a reluctant report but no action because I failed to identify a suspect and then fleeced for the heinous crime of doing 103km on a straight road with an empty trailer no wonder I have no respect for law enforcers. Property rights re the key to a free and democratic society and when these are no longer enforced the rule of law is a mockery. And they turn a blind eye to electoral offences. No wonder our society is going down the gurgler fast.