Sam Boyer

Sam Boyer is a police reporter for the NZ Herald.

City drivers still testing the limit

Constable Jackie Pearce stopped five drivers within 30 minutes along Quay Street yesterday, all over the new 4km/h speed threshold. Photo / Greg Bowker
Constable Jackie Pearce stopped five drivers within 30 minutes along Quay Street yesterday, all over the new 4km/h speed threshold. Photo / Greg Bowker

Almost half the road fatalities in the Auckland City police district this year have been pedestrians - a statistic the district's top police officer wants to eliminate.

Superintendent Mike Clement yesterday hit the roads, ticketing drivers with Constable Jackie Pearce as part of the police summer campaign to bring down road deaths.

The 4km/h speed tolerance was introduced on December 1 and will run through to January 31.

Drivers in Auckland City yesterday did not appear to be paying attention to the summer speed threshold, with five drivers pulled over in about 30 minutes on Quay St as the Herald spoke with police the fastest of whom was driving 71km/h in the 50km/h zone.

"Most of these vehicles travelling through are at 54km/h to 58km/h, but we pick off the ones at the higher end," Ms Pearce said.

It was relatively common to pull over a speeding driver about every five minutes, she said, especially in fine weather when people tended to speed more.

The high concentration of pedestrians in the inner-city presented speeding problems other areas didn't face, Mr Clement said.

"There's such a huge number of pedestrians here. We have a disproportionate number of pedestrians ... that are hit and killed. And the consequences of getting hit by a car travelling at 65km/h as opposed to 50km/h is huge.

"Of the seven fatalities we had this year, three of them were pedestrians - and that's not matched anywhere else in the country."

This year to October, seven road deaths were reported in the Auckland City district. In all but one of those, speed was recorded as a factor in the deaths.

The three pedestrians killed make up almost 43 per cent of the road toll in the city this year, while the pedestrian road toll nationally is just 11 per cent.

Mr Clement said he personally hoped the 4km/h tolerance would eventually become the norm.

"It's about making the roads safer. If everybody bought into it and monitored their speed there would be far fewer crashes and far fewer fatalities. Every kilometre that you step it up, the survivability of a crash is greatly reduced.

"There were 57 fatalities [nationally] last December-January. If we can reduce that by seven, or 10 or 27, that would be significantly less trauma in the community. The cost of fatalities to society is hellish."

A common reason extolled by speeding drivers caught this month was Christmas stress, he said.

"When you stop people you can almost guarantee that they'll say they're busy people and this is a busy time of year. But we've just got to get them to stop."

But the cost of being too busy to check your speedometer could end up hurting, Mr Clement said. The faster the speed, the higher the penalty.

"And that'll be one less Christmas present you'll be able to afford."


Speed and the city

High-risk death spots

• Ellerslie-Panmure Highway (between Burt Rd and Ballarat St).
• 1136 Great North Rd, Pt Chevalier.
• Church St, Onehunga.
• Mt Albert Rd, Three Kings (between St Andrews Rd and Rowan Rd).

Radar hotspots

• Tamaki Drive.
• Quay St.
• Great North Rd.
• New North Rd.
• Hillsborough Rd.

Sorry officer

• I was running late for work.
• I was racing to catch the lights.
• I wasn't aware of the speed limit.
• I was just in a hurry.
• I'm late to pick people up.
• I just wasn't paying attention.

- NZ Herald

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