In a drive to make Northland's roads safer, a speed camera van is no longer incognito but clearly identified as a traffic safety camera.

In the past, nabbing speeding drivers used to be a rather covert affair, with unmarked vans randomly parked on the side of the road.

Now under a major drive to make cameras more visible, white vans have been clearly labelled with police colours - blue and yellow livery down the side and signwriting.

One of seven marked vans nationally has been operating in Northland over the past month as part of a trial. Northland has three speed camera vans - two operating in the Whangarei and Kaipara areas, while another covers the Mid to Far North.


Figures released to the Northern Advocate under the Official Information Act show that 671,043 speed camera tickets were issued nationally in the 12 months to the end of June, including 26,073 in Northland.

Senior Sergeant Steve Dickson said one of Northland's three speed cameras would soon be replaced by a marked van.

The 26,073 speed camera tickets issued in Northland were for fines totalling $2,093,970, out of a national fines total of $49,172,330.

Northland police highway patrol acting manager Sergeant Lance Goulsbro said the marked speed camera vehicles were part of a preventative strategy. "It's about visibility and changing perceptions that speed camera tickets are a revenue gathering exercise."

The van could be parked anywhere on the region's roads, Mr Goulsbro said.

Speed cameras were first introduced in New Zealand in 1993 on the basis of their success overseas, which showed that they effectively deterred drivers from speeding.

A police spokesman said a decision was made late last year to trial the marking of a small number of mobile speed camera vans as part of a range of road safety initiatives designed to provide a highly visible deterrent to speeding drivers.

The seven vans were introduced last month in Northland, Waitemata, Central, Eastern and Canterbury police districts as existing vehicles in those districts became due for replacement.

However, they formed only a small proportion of the total fleet.

Police said use of the marked vans would be evaluated before any decision was made about whether to expand the idea.

The evaluation is expected to be completed around the middle of next year.