Stubborn Police aren’t listening to… everyone else


“We got it wrong”.

A statement you won’t get from Police on the failed speed tolerance experiment.

Police will continue their crackdown on speed and alcohol after a holiday period in which 17 people died on the country’s roads.

The toll is more than double those of the same holiday period in each of the last two years.

There was a high number of fatalities despite last month’s introduction of a lower breath alcohol limit and police discretion to enforce a zero speed limit.

Yep.  So it failed.


Road Policing Assistant Commissioner Dave Cliff said today that the long-term trends were “really positive” and the stricter enforcement measures could not be judged over a short period of time.

“We know that over time [the road toll] is coming down, but if you take really short periods of time, like holiday periods, you can’t draw conclusions because the time period is just too short.”

Police would continue to maintain vigilance on the roads, he said.
Initial indications showed that alcohol and speed had been factors in at least eight of the deaths, he said.

This holiday period toll was “tragic”, but not a long-term trend.

He answered criticism that the police’s focus on speed was not working by saying they based their road policing policy on proven scientific evidence and not individuals’ opinions.

The official holiday road toll started at 4pm on Christmas Eve and finished today at 6am.
The latest reported death happened about 1.50am today, when a man’s vehicle crashed into a lamp-post in Christchurch.

Mr Cliff said it was devastating that so many people had lost their lives these holidays and it was due to the same common factors.

“It is a bad decision to drive after drinking. It’s that simple.”

Sure Mr Cliff.  I get that.  But it isn’t the ones that had three beers instead of two, or drove 101 km/h instead of 100. Is it?  Stop messing good people around pretending it addresses the problem.

“But we all have a role to play, so to all New Zealanders, all family members, all friends, please slow down on our roads.”

Associate Transport Minister Craig Foss said any death or serious injury on the roads was one too many.

“Provisional data suggests alcohol, speed or both contributed to 12 of the holiday period fatalities. So many of these accidents, and the pain and suffering they cause, are avoidable. Give yourself the best chance of survival by driving to the conditions, wearing a seatbelt and avoiding alcohol before getting behind the wheel,” he said.

Come on Fossy.  Be honest.  Speed and alcohol nowhere near the new tolerance limits.  Do I have to fire off an OIA to make you admit it?

Stop stuffing good people around, and concentrate on the idiots.


– Rebecca Quillam, NZ Herald



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  • Rex

    Every night this guy Cliff is on TV with the same old drivel. He has turned people off! Driving at 101kph or having 2 beers whatever the limit now is, is NOT causing the death toll to be what it is. Look at tourists, look at young hoons in too powerful cars for their ability, look at heavy drink drivers. Those three would be a start! NOT someone driving at 101kph!

    • grumpy

      …..and trucks…

      • Rex

        Do trucks cause many fatalities? When a car load of tourists do a U turn in front of a BIG truck is that the truck drivers fault? No way. Had it been a car there would maybe have been more deaths.

        • grumpy

          “Initial indications showed that alcohol and speed had been factors in at least eight of the deaths, he said.”
          According to the cops, it does not have to be the “cause” just a “factor”. So, if a tourist on the wrong side of the road hit a motorist doing 101km/hr and he had 2 beers then “alcohol and speed is a factor”.
          This dishonest selective use of statistics does the police no credit.

  • Murray Smith

    We all suffer from an unfortunate condition, otherwise known as being human. Therefore there will always be a percentage of us that kill ourselves off. Whether it be in a motor vehicle, a lamp post or in the water. Bad luck and idiots will always exist. No amount of regulation can ever solve it.
    We are all terminal in outlook.

  • Cadwallader

    He talks about long term trends being positive but surely we are closing in on the rational minimum number of per annum deaths given ALL relevant factors….driver ability, road conditions etc..?the ODT states today that road deaths in Otago have increased in the past 2 years. Maybe the increase is attributable to snowy winters?
    If Mr Cliff has a legitimate message to convey he’s not good at doing so. In radio interviews his voice swings between boredom and fatigue. (I trust he’s not out on the highways of NZ these holidays busily focussed on his speedometer!)

  • For the most part we have reached the point of diminishing returns with road policing. By that I mean increasing the harshness of the punishments or in this case lowering the allowable limits will get fewer and fewer savings of lives. Police need to stop forcing us to drive our car on IDR (a pun on Aviations Instrument Flight Rules, where you fly the plane without looking out the window) or taking the party out of the party by treating as all as children and not knowing our limits. They need to start actively prosecuting the repeat bad drivers (We had one on here the other day that desperately needs to go back to Samoa), they need to set up venues for kids parties that are off the road and they and maybe look at subsiding Taxis over the holiday period.

  • NZ Groover

    I’d be interested to know more about the “proven scientific evidence”. Can anyone shed some light on this?

  • Iera

    Having now enforced the speed limit to zero-tolerance – 100kmph, do 101 and be charged – how can the police withdraw from this position.
    Can any variation be legal?
    Any change now will surely be grounds for anyone charged this holiday season to challenge their charge.

    • Excitedly awaiting Whodunnit

      Would be interesting point to argue in court if you got a ticket for 104 (or there abouts). If a ticket is up to the discretion of the officer then isnt the speed limit not actually legally fixed at 100 but rather an arbitrary number dependant in a police officers mindset. Could i not also argue that my discretion is just as suitable as the cops so i can set my own speeds and drive to the conditions be it 120km or 80km in a “100” area.

      just a thought.

  • Bombastic

    The police seem to have become radicalised in their jihad against motorists. The two near misses I experienced driving from Wellington to Auckland both involved stupidity rather than 1km/h, but I guess they don’t have the detector technology for the former.

  • JC

    So on one hand we are talking about increasing speeds on good roads to 110-120kph and on the other we are being told that you can do only 95 on the very same roads?!!

    Right there is proof that the cops don’t understand their own statistics or the history of the decreasing road toll in NZ over the past 40 odd years when the speed limit was 80kph.


  • williamabong

    An old adage – Only a fool does the same thing twice and expects a different result.

  • I.M Bach

    It’s odd how the holiday period is too short to draw any conclusions when the road toll goes up but when it goes down the conclusion is drawn claiming the police policies are working. This is pure politics and absolute twaddle.

  • El Jorge

    So the police are now working on the Left Wing philosophy that if you repeat a lie often enough it becomes true?

  • Hoju

    Has anybody on here had a ticket this summer for doing +1 kph?

    • Hardie Martin

      A question in my mind as well. I think you may be waiting a long while for an answer to that. It does give people a good opportunity to have a slash at the Police though doesn’t it? I’ve even seen claims that burglaries are being ignored so that Police can ‘enforce the 1kph limit’

      • Bombastic

        No matter what the answer is, the best description for the Police publicised zero-tolerance policy is a self inflicted PR disaster. Every person I’ve discussed this with has said their respect for the Police has been lost, and I mix with reasonable law-abiding people.

  • Arnie

    They say that an increase over a short holiday period may not show the trend. Has not the trend been going up for the last 12 months??

  • corporate refugee

    If reducing the speed tolerance level makes roads safer, why was there a need for so many more “Safety Cameras” than usual set up alongside the road this past month?

  • Woody

    AN OIA request sounds like a jolly good idea. I was wondering today what the process was to get the real facts on those fatal accidents over the official holiday period.

    What was the speed of the vehicles and what was the speed limit where all thos accidents happened

    What was the blood alcohol level of all those drivers involved.

    So far we have been fed generalities which mean absolutely nothing.

    • jay

      It won’t all come out til the inquest

  • Garbageman

    Im wondering what the long term trends will be from now paranoid people spending more time constantly checking their speedos than concentrating on the road

    • KinaRolf

      They do, Police is now the biggest danger, and the road toll proves it. People watch the speedo and police checks, not the road and driving.

  • Mine it,Drill it,Sell it.

    He answered criticism that the police’s focus on speed was not working
    by saying they based their road policing policy on proven scientific
    evidence and not individuals’ opinions.

    With this blinkered thinking I could not support the death penalty in NZ.

    • KinaRolf

      When I studied law once a long time ago, the discussion on harsher penalties vs crime came up. Most students advocated that harsher penalties and increased controls lessened crime. The lecturer interrupted. “Think if we equipped the parking wardens with portable guillotines and they were to summarily execute all parking violators, yes – it would help, but is that the society we want to liove in?” That is the society we see developing now in nz. We must take control of the police.

  • Cracker1963

    I just don’t get both the NZ Police & Medias obsession with the Road Toll. I’ve lived in 4 Countries (NZ, Australia, UK & Croatia). Only in NZ do I hear about a Road Toll- Only in NZ do the Police have an obsession with speed- only in NZ do the media show car accidents on the front page of the news, only in NZ is a road closed for hours after an accident (I remember passing an accident just out of Hamburg- a bad one- the Police simply pushed the cars off the motorway & hosed off the road with high pressure water & opened the road again, taking no more than 10 minutes) again- I don’t get it.

    • Mayan

      And Australia. Oh my, do the authorities here ever love to rave on about it, over and over and over again. I’m surprised they haven’t applied on the spot total asset confiscation for 1 km/h over the limit … yet.

  • KinaRolf

    In an autocratic dictatorship, the police control the public. In a democratic country the public control the police. Isn’t it time New Zealand make a change.

  • williamabong

    Being that we live in a results driven world, and Mr Cliff hasn’t delivered the expected result perhaps it’s now time he was given the heave ho and someone else was appointed to the role.
    Every job I have ever been in if some one failed to deliver the expected result it was always “goneburger” for the underachiever, which Mr Cliff quite clearly is.

  • Captain Darling

    Have you seen their latest “speed kills” advert, where a girl runs out from behind a parked car without looking, and gets hit, the inference being it’s the drivers fault?? Give me strength.

    • mark14

      there was a similar ad in the UK only it was a kid kicking a football in the middle of the road and generic looking non branded family hatchback driven by a woman nailed him.Perhaps we should have a campaign against walking across the road holding your iphone horizontally in front of your mouth while holding a conversation.

      • Captain Darling

        Don’t be ridiculous, that doesn’t fit their narrative that nasty evil speeding is the cause of all road problems.

    • johnnymanukau.

      That CD is not and should never be, included in any vehicle accident stats. But it should be included in— SUICIDE— stats as many other road deaths should. Sick of the B/S and lies included in the Police and Road Transport reports.

  • Bobb

    So…… If the road toll drops during a designated “low tolerance” period it is hailed as a resounding success. But if it goes up….. then the time period is too short deliver a valid conclusion. Mr Cliff seems to think we are all as thick as the people who work with him and come up with these fruitloop ideas.

  • simblor

    It’s laziness on behalf of senior leadership and politicians. Speed does kill. That is a true statement, but it’s also an over simplification that the powers that be have latched onto for years now. Probably because targeting speeding is easy – put a van with a camera on the side of the road, and give the traffic cops a laser, the rest is just maths.

    I think the more appropriate message is “Drive to the conditions”. Speed on a straight road in good weather, in a modern car does not kill, as the conditions allow for higher speeds. Speeding in a corner in a city car with tiny little tyres, or maybe some loose metal on the side of the road, now that can kill. If you’re speeding in this situation you aren’t driving to the conditions.

    (semi related random thought: my open road driving utopia has the minimum vehicle requirements for open road driving as minimum 2.0 litre engine displacement and 195mm minimium width tyres)

    • Backdoor

      Obviously you have never raced a Mini on metal roads. Who needs a 2.0 litre engine?

      I drove for 10 years on 185.14 tyres in an old PB Vauxhall and lived to tell the tale. Maybe it is time to include a section of metal road driving in all driver’s license tests for the Townies.

      • simblor

        Not a mini, but I did do an excellent day at the Maramarua Rally School in a 1.6 Mivec Mirage, imagine if that was part of the driving curriculum!

        Anyway, I was being facetious (see: utopia). It was more an attack on the people driving piddling 1.3l auto econoboxes on the open road which understeer into the nearest bank if pushed into a corner at anything above walking pace.

  • The2Game

    I get a little tired at forever and forever being told our road toll is ‘too high’…

    Sure, each death is a tragedy, but on a global scale we are way below the ‘norm’.

    Consider the following chart (obtained from a simple Wikipedia check) which details the number of fatalities for each country per 100,000 inhabitants per year and with, in most cases, that data relating to 2010 onward:

    Central African Republic 13472.8
    Sudan 9370.2
    Benin 8277.3
    Burundi 5960
    Guinea 5769.9
    Eritrea 4400
    Democratic Republic of the Congo 3932.6
    Ethiopia 3874.3
    São Tomé and Príncipe 3090.9
    Sierra Leone 2940
    Niger 2369.7
    Madagascar 2292.2
    Timor-Leste 2267.1
    Rwanda 2265.2
    Kenya 2176.5
    Togo 2099.2
    Angola 2074.9
    The Gambia 1867.8
    Guyana 1707.3
    Mali 1672.5
    Malawi 1670.9
    Solomon Islands 1541.7
    Uganda 1518.1
    Chad 1391
    Republic of the Congo 1325.7
    Mozambique 1135.5
    Bangladesh 1064.1
    United Republic of Tanzania 1039.6
    Equatorial Guinea 941.2
    Zambia 923.6
    Cameroon 887.8
    Guinea-Bissau 872.5
    Ivory Coast 867.9
    Afghanistan 848.9
    Vanuatu 757.3
    Senegal 742.6
    Yemen 587.6
    Comoros 535.1
    Burkina Faso 516.1
    Ghana 481.6
    Nigeria 425.2
    Nepal 406.1
    Pakistan 383.7
    Ecuador 376.3
    Kiribati 372.7
    Tajikistan 347.6
    Myanmar 308.5
    Iraq 293.8
    Venezuela 266.4
    Mauritania 250
    Namibia 249.3
    Nicaragua 243.3
    Kyrgyzstan 237.7
    Syrian Arab Republic 225.6
    Zimbabwe 212.4
    India 211.8
    Marshall Islands 211.6
    Bolivia 209.9
    Morocco 206.3
    Samoa 200.5
    El Salvador 189.9
    Egypt 183.3
    Swaziland 181
    Turkmenistan 175.5
    Gabon 173.3
    Cape Verde 172.9
    Bhutan 166.7
    South Africa 156.4
    Dominican Republic 151.5
    Paraguay 150.5
    Peru 146.5
    Honduras 144.8
    Cuba 143.5
    Libya 139.2
    Mongolia 134.2
    Jordan 133.8
    China 133.3
    Tunisia 132.6
    Philippines 128.1
    Laos 125.6
    Azerbaijan 122.3
    Cambodia 118.8
    Kazakhstan 108.1
    Botswana 105.7
    Oman 105.1
    Tonga 103.4
    Saudi Arabia 103
    Albania 97.2
    Iran 96.7
    World 93.3
    Georgia 93
    Thailand 92.4
    Palestinian territories 86.5
    Seychelles 85
    Colombia 83.5
    Panama 80.7
    Republic of Moldova 77.5
    Liberia 73.7
    Sri Lanka 72.2
    Bosnia and Herzegovina 72.1
    Trinidad and Tobago 69.8
    Fiji 69.6
    Brazil 67.7
    Vietnam 65.3
    Costa Rica 64.1
    Jamaica 63.5
    Nauru 63.5
    Lebanon 61.7
    Indonesia 58.4
    Uruguay 56.2
    Russia 55.4
    Suriname 54.2
    Mexico 54.1
    Palau 52
    Romania 47.3
    Saint Lucia 45.9
    Republic of Macedonia 45.6
    Guatemala 45.2
    Turkey 42.6
    United Arab Emirates 42.3
    Montenegro 41.3
    Mauritius 41.1
    Belarus 36.1
    Bahamas 35.8
    Ukraine 35.3
    Dominica 34
    Serbia 32.9
    Qatar 32.8
    Malaysia 31.4
    South Korea 30.4
    Latvia 30.1
    Kuwait 28.8
    Bahrain 28.6
    Singapore 27.4
    Argentina 24.7
    Federated States of Micronesia 24
    Bulgaria 23.6
    Slovakia 22
    Hungary 21.3
    Cook Islands 21.2
    Armenia 18.6
    Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 18.5
    Portugal 18
    Poland 17.6
    Croatia 17.5
    Lithuania 16.6
    Belize 16.4
    Barbados 14.9
    Greece 13.8
    United States of America 13.6
    Estonia 13.1
    Czech Republic 13
    Maldives 12
    Cyprus 10.8
    Slovenia 10.5
    New Zealand 10.3
    Israel 9.5
    Canada 9.3
    France 8.5
    Luxembourg 8.1
    Belgium 8
    Brunei Darussalam 7.7
    Italy 7.6
    Japan 7.3
    Austria 7.2
    Australia 7
    Germany 6.9
    Netherlands 6.9
    Ireland 6.7
    Finland 6.6
    United Kingdom 6.2
    Chile 5.8
    Denmark 5.7
    Spain 5.2
    Sweden 5.1
    Iceland 4.9
    Switzerland 4.7
    Norway 4.4
    Malta 3.8

    You’ll note that the global average is 93.3.

    New Zealand clocks in at 10.3.

    • AF

      Nice – finally some facts where we can see NZ is well down in the list. Remind me to not go anywhere near the roads in Africa!

      • The2Game

        Indeed, AF…

        But, getting onto one of Cam’s pet subjects, if it took me about 1.123456 seconds to Google the chart I ran above how come none of our ‘superbly-trained’, main stream media ‘journalists’ never thought to do the same i.e. to actually check on the spiel they were being spun that we are such god-awful drivers as a nation rather than simply run the latest press release they were emailed?

      • dgrogan

        They have roads in, Africa? Much like outback, Australia I’d imagine – basically dirt. These stats. might be a bit more meaningful if the third world countries, without engineered roads, were excluded.

  • Sagacious Blonde

    It’s all John Key’s fault!
    A decent proportion of the fatalities and accidents are caused by tourists. As Minister for Tourism he’s responsible for bringing way too many tourists to New Zealand.

    • taurangaruru

      JK & Peter if only we had all listened to Helen Kelly & her union mates when they tried to derail Jackson’s movies.

  • PhantomsDoc

    A cars cruise control can’t be relied upon to stay within a 1km/h set speed. In fact, many constantly vary up to 3km/h under normal driving conditions and even more than that on bigger down-hill slopes or shifting while accelerating up-hill.
    Remember, cruise control is a computer that’s sole function is to keep a car travelling at a set speed. That is it’s only purpose. It doesn’t have to monitor traffic or road conditions. It doesn’t have to brake for corners of idiot drivers. It doesn’t have to make decisions about over-taking or what turn-off to take.

    Now, a human driver having to deal with all the road and driving conditions, in-car distractions as well as having to monitor the cars operation and speed, while, at the same time, being situationally aware and being able to react to any unforeseen hazard is expected to have a better speed tolerance that a purpose built computer?

    So much more time spent checking you speed = less time concentrating on driving. Result: more accidents. So, tell us again, how did the road toll go this Christmas???

  • Excitedly awaiting Whodunnit

    Be interesting to see a monthly breakdown showing causes of fatalities(and injury accidents too for a better idea of causes). Perhaps broken down into districts too. Actual cause of incidents not what may have contributed ( u turn in front of truck makes any other factors secondary and probably irrelevant). This fixation with deaths rather than accidents in reporting gives a wrong impression too. 10 individual accidents resulting in a death are different to one van accident causing 10 deaths. The result is the same but the means to achieve it are different.

    Once we can see the wood in the trees we can start to come up with solutions.

  • Zoneman Tyler

    Just stoked i made it through the 80’s, year 1987 : total road deaths “795” num of injuries “18728”.