Speedster clocks 142km/h

By Kristin Edge, Cassandra Mason

The lower speed tolerance has been enforced since December and will run through till the end of January. Photo/Alan Gibson
The lower speed tolerance has been enforced since December and will run through till the end of January. Photo/Alan Gibson

Northland motorists driving at break-neck speeds have been nabbed travelling at nearly 50km/h over the limit during the holiday season and have been charged with dangerous driving.

Police say while most motorists were observing the 4km/h speed tolerance, those flouting the limit would inevitably end in tragedy.

A Northland road safety advocate says making the summer crackdown on speeding permanent could bring the region's road toll down.

A recent Herald-DigiPoll survey showed fines issued for drivers travelling at more than 4km/h above the legal limit this holiday season were strongly supported by the public. Police have previously lowered the speed tolerance from 10km/h to 4km/h at long weekends and public holidays, but the lower threshold has been in force for all of December and runs until the end of January.

If the 62-day trial is successful, it could mark the end of the 10km/h speed tolerance.

Chair of Roadsafe Northland John Williamson said the proposed initiative could save lives but it would have to be enforced for the right reasons.

"As long as it's not seen as a speed trap [and] targets areas of vulnerability, I have no problem with it.

"If it's just a way to issue more speeding tickets, then that's a problem."

If the initiative were to work properly, it could not be viewed as a punitive measure, he said.

But police have been amazed at the speeds some drivers have been clocked at in Northland over recent days.

Last week, a man was stopped on State Highway 1 near Oakleigh for driving at 142km/h. He was instantly disqualified from driving for 28 days and will appear in the Whangarei District Court on a charge of dangerous driving.

On Friday, police stopped a man who was driving at 129km/h in an 80km/h zone on Riverside Drive in the early hours of the morning. He lost his licence and will appear in court on driving charges.

Yesterday, a 27-year-old man picked the wrong place to allegedly do a burn-out and run a red light. The vehicle was heard outside the Whangarei Police Station. Police followed the man and when he was stopped, checks revealed he was breaching his bail and learner licence conditions. He was arrested for the breach of bail and received tickets for sustained loss of traction, running a red light and breaching licence conditions. The tickets were worth a total of $900.

Northland road policing manager Inspector Murray Hodson said the man could have killed or seriously injured a pedestrian when he ran the red light.

"I'm also amazed at the high speeds that some motorists are still driving at. It only takes a small obstruction on the road to send a car at that speed out of control and that can only lead to disastrous consequences." Last year's national road toll was the lowest for 60 years but Northland's toll was creeping up.

- Northern Advocate

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