26,000 caught speeding in Bay

By Teuila Fuatai

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More than 26,000 speeding tickets were issued in the Bay of Plenty during the last year.

Police figures show speeding infringements for the region have jumped 20 per cent in the last two financial years, up from 21,582 in 2010/11 to 26,035 in 2011/12.

Western Bay road police Acting Senior Sergeant Wayne Hunter said drivers aged between 18 and 24 were the worst offenders.

"Speed kills - it's a message that's very hard to get through to that age group. They think they're bullet-proof.

"A lot of their views are that 'we're not hurting anybody but ourselves'."

Mr Hunter said it was not uncommon for drivers regularly pinged for speeding to say: "I'll just add it to my other fines."

Bay of Plenty road police manager Inspector Kevin Taylor said the number of crashes had declined across the region in recent months.

"Speed enforcement is part of core business for Bay of Plenty Road Policing staff.

"As more drivers slow down, less crashes occur, and those that do occur have less serious consequences," he said.

Annual figures show fatal crashes related to speed in Bay of Plenty dropped in the past three years.

During the last financial year, four occurred, down from six in 2010/11 and seven in 2009/10.

Nationally, more than 900,000 speeding tickets were handed out during 2011/12, amounting to at least $80 million in police fines.

Figures show ticket numbers have remained steady in the past two financial years, but fines have dropped by about $3 million, from $83,619,720 in 2010/11 to $80,155,710 in 2011/12.

These figures do not include fines for speedsters caught driving at more than 50km/h over the limit, because they are imposed by the court system.

National road policing manager Superintendent Carey Griffiths said many speed-related crashes were caused by motorists travelling at 10km/h over the speed limit.

"Traditionally [police] have exercised their discretion and not issued notices to these drivers."

"Police believe that reducing speed tolerance on holiday weekends and other high-risk periods is one of the best ways of reducing mean speeds below posted speed limits."

In the 2011/12 financial year, police dedicated $51 million to speed enforcement. During this time, New Zealand's speed camera system received a major overhaul.

All speed cameras are now digital which has reduced the infringement processing period, Mr Griffiths said.

There are also more of them on the roads, he said.

Nationally the number of fatal crashes linked to speed have also declined, dropping by a third in the last three financial years, according to the New Zealand Transport Agency.

After spiking at 100 in 2009/2010, fatal speed-related crashes dropped to 91 the following year then 66 in 2011/2012. Overall, fatal and serious speed-related crashes fell by about 16 per cent during the three years.

Mr Griffiths said hundreds of police staff worked towards enforcing speed safety on our roads.

"All police districts conduct regular speed campaigns.

"These campaigns can range from addressing a particular problem in a high-risk area to being part of a national campaign," he said. "And there are hundreds of staff whose role includes targeting speeding drivers."

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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