Police: Bay drivers fastest in the country

By Amy McGillivray


Bay drivers are the worst-of-the-worst when it comes to speeding.

The Ministry of Transport's 2012 Speed Survey revealed that 15 per cent of the vehicles surveyed on urban roads in the Bay of Plenty were travelling faster than 60.5km/h the highest in the country.

On the open road the top 15 per cent of drivers in the Bay again drove faster than any other region at speeds of more than 107km/h

The region's average urban road speed of 54.5km/h was also the highest in the nation but the Bay's average open road speed of 96.7km/h was topped by five other regions.

Bay of Plenty road policing manager Inspector Kevin Taylor said despite higher-than-national-average speeds it was pleasing to see these trending down.

The average speed on urban roads in the Bay has decreased by about 1km/h since 2005. The average open road speed peaked in 2010 but has dropped almost 2km/h since.

"It is a continued area of focus for staff both on rural and urban roads; something that will be particularly critical in a couple of weeks when schools go back and some of our most vulnerable will be out walking and cycling.

"We have made some real headway in terms of safety on our open roads the number of people killed on our state highways has halved in the last four years."

Unfortunately it was locals who were failing to get the message, Mr Taylor said.

"Predominantly the people who die on Bay of Plenty roads are local to the areas in which the crashes occur. Urban roads in particular are most frequently used by locals. The results for the urban speed survey therefore indicate that local people are creating a risk to lives in their own backyards."

Despite the high speeds annual figures show fatal crashes related to speed in Bay of Plenty had dropped in the past three years.

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

Western Bay of Plenty road policing manager Senior Sergeant Ian Campion said speed was a major issue across state highways, rural and urban roads in the Western Bay.

In 2009 speed was a contributing factor in 20 per cent of all fatal and serious injury crashes in Tauranga City and 25 per cent of all fatal and serious injury crashes in the Western Bay, he said.

Speed was always being policed but the next big push in the Western Bay would kick off on January 29 when schools reopened, Mr Campion said.

The Back to School campaign, regularly run by police, focused on speed around schools and enforcement of the 40km/h speed limit around some schools during peak hours.

Tauranga City Council transport operations manager Martin Parkes said it was disappointing to see the average urban road speed was above 50km/h. "But when we look back over the last seven years it is a downward trend which is positive. We'd like to see that closer to 50km/h I've got to admit."

His team worked closely with the police and were always reviewing speed limits in different areas.

"I think in certain areas we do have some issues [with speed]. In other areas, no."

New Zealand Transport Agency acting Bay of Plenty state highways manager Nigel D'Ath said it was encouraging that the average open road and urban speeds in the Bay of Plenty had come down but disappointing that some drivers were still choosing to travel at unsafe speeds.

"The higher your speed the more likely you are to crash, and just as importantly there is also a clear link between vehicle speed and the severity of injuries suffered by people in crashes - whether they are drivers or passengers inside a vehicle, or pedestrians or cyclists struck by a vehicle.

"Research shows that for every 1km/h reduction in mean speed on the open road the number of fatalities reduces by about 4 per cent.

"We applaud the majority of Bay of Plenty drivers who are choosing to drive at safer speeds, and we urge those who continue to put others at risk by choosing to travel at unsafe speeds to follow their example."

Associate Transport Minister and Tauranga MP Simon Bridges said the

Bay drivers fastest in countrysurvey was designed to track changes within regions rather than make comparisons between them but it did send a message to Bay drivers.

"We get a sense from the survey that some drivers in the Bay of Plenty are driving more quickly than others in New Zealand. The message is clear some drivers need to slow down."

However, Mr Bridges said the national results were pleasing.

"Across New Zealand this is the lowest year ever for driving speeds and that shows the police and the Government strategies are working and ultimately that means less people dying."

Nationally the percentage of motorists exceeding the speed limit on the open road dropped from 31 per cent in 2011 to 25 per cent last year.

The percentage of motorists speeding in urban areas dropped from 59 per cent to 53 per cent, while similar drops were recorded among heavy vehicles.

The figures also show a vast improvement on rates in the mid-1990s, when more than half of drivers broke the speed limit on open roads and more than 80 per cent in urban areas.

But speed was still a factor in 25 per cent of fatal crashes last year, Mr Bridges said.

He said the Government would this year push ahead with new anti-speeding initiatives the first of which he expected at the end of the month.

How the survey works

The free speeds of cars at the same 65 open road and 65 urban sites are measured by surveyors at the same time and day of the week each year.

Free speeds are speeds attained when the vehicle is unimpeded by the presence of other vehicles or by environmental features such as traffic lights, intersections, hills, corners or road works.

For some sites, a laser is used to measure speeds and for other sites, cables are placed on the road surface to measure speeds.

In the Bay of Plenty the speeds of 914 vehicles on the open road and 1674 vehicles on urban roads were measured last year.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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