Sandra is a senior crimes and justice reporter for the Bay of Plenty Times.

No action on most traffic complaints

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More than 31,000 traffic complaints were logged in the Western Bay police district in the past five years, but police only prosecuted or took action against 188 people.

Of those calls, 20,545 were cancelled, meaning no action was taken by police.

Data obtained under an Official Information Act request by the Bay of Plenty Times showed that between January 1, 2011, and April 10 this year there were 31,200 traffic complaint calls in the Western Bay of Plenty policing area, including 16,481 calls originating in Tauranga.

This included *555 complaints, those phoned in on 111 and the general police line.

But national operations manager Inspector Mal Schwartfeger said police were unable to give an exact breakdown of what these complaints were about without a manual search of every complaint, which would take substantial research.

Mr Schwartfeger said events were cancelled by the police communications centre staff for a variety of reasons usually because police attendance was no longer required or it was not possible for an officer to attend due to other competing demands.

But frontline staff working in the same area were always alerted in case they became free to deal with the call, he said.

The traffic data also showed most complaints were made on Friday, followed by Saturday and Thursday and the least on Monday, and the majority of complaints made at 5pm.

Mr Schwartfeger said police used Community Roadwatch reports in conjunction with *555 line complaints to identify registration numbers which sparked repeated complaints.

Once an offending driver was identified, police actively pursued preventative measures aimed at eliminating the risks posed to themselves and others, he said.

Spokesperson for the Tauranga branch of the Sensible Sentencing Trust, Ken Evans, said the trust complimented members of the public who had taken the time and effort to call police.

Mr Evans said the trust would like to see those complaints form part of an offender's history when they were prosecuted so "sensible justice" could be handed down to repeat offenders.

Western Bay of Plenty head of road policing Senior Sergeant Ian Campion said he was unable to comment on the data obtained from police national headquarters.

Mr Campion said in the Western Bay, police continued to be concerned about some high-risk behaviours included failing to stop, unsafe overtaking and following distances.

"It's also inconsiderate use of lanes and using the incorrect lane when entering intersections and roundabouts, particularly Bayfair roundabout where some drivers use the left lane then make a right turn onto Maunganui Rd.

"Not only is it illegal but it significantly increases the risk of a crash."

Mr Campion urged motorists to take that extra five to 10 minutes to get from A to B and always heed all the road rules.

Brake Road Safety Charity director Caroline Perry said: "The key thing for us is that people do report these incidents so police are made aware of them, and whenever possible the offending driver is caught and deterred from posing a risk to other road users.

"At end of the day, motorists must ensure they drive responsibly and heed the road rules, because, if they don't, it can have serious repercussions not just for them but other road users."

- Bay of Plenty Times

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