Checkpoint alert lures fans

By Vaimoana Tapaleao

The Checkpoint Watch Facebook page has proved popular with drivers.
The Checkpoint Watch Facebook page has proved popular with drivers.

Thousands of people are visiting a Facebook page that details where police checkpoints and hidden speed cameras are located nationwide.

The Checkpoint Watch New Zealand page has gained more than 21,000 "likes" and urges people to: "Let us know or find out where they are operating so that they can be avoided."

It's believed at least two people monitor the page and keep it updated.

The page reads: "Beware the revenue-gathering, inconvenient police checkpoint."

But police are not amused, with a senior officer saying checkpoints are needed to keep the roads safe. The officer rejected claims of revenue gathering.

The page says it needs readers' "vigilance and interaction" to be successful. "So please ensure you post details (time and date) and whereabouts of any police checkpoints or patrols you may come across in your travels. Thank you."

Administrators did not return Herald messages yesterday.

The page also warns motorists of hidden speed cameras set up on the side of roads and has tips for truck drivers, such as: "East Tamaki: Cops waving down trucks ... Highbrook Drive end. Make sure your loads are secure and logbooks up to date."

It has proved popular with thousands of drivers, some openly admitting they did not have a current warrant of fitness, registration or licence and were thankful for not being fined.

Juanita wrote: "Single mum, full-time study - ain't got money for a rego. Thanks, CWNZ."

Peter Samuelu wrote: "Checkpoints save lives. Checkpoint Watch NZ saves fines lol."

Another person wrote: "Saved my ass again!"

National manager police roading Superintendent Carey Griffiths said police did not condone such information pages, given police were working to get drunk drivers off the road.

"Police checkpoints are based on risk and are operated in a range of locations. Their focus is on detection anywhere, anytime to remove drunk, drugged and dangerous drivers or dangerous vehicles from our roads before they go on to potentially maim or kill other innocent road users."

The Checkpoint Watch NZ page is similar to other Facebook pages set up in other parts of the country, including the West Coast Police Check Points page.

Several similar webpages were removed from Facebook last year.

Mr Griffiths said police would not be making moves to have this latest page shut down, but said it was unfair for people to think of checkpoints as "revenue-gathering", given that the whole point of the set-up was to keep motorists safe.

"The message from police is that there is a 100 per cent certain way of avoiding the negative consequence of a checkpoint," Mr Griffiths said.

"Don't drink and drive, respect the conditions of your licence and keep your vehicle roadworthy with a current warrant of fitness."

- NZ Herald

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