Cities pour cold water on squeegee bandits

By Rosaleen Macbrayne

By ROSALEEN MACBRAYNE

Tauranga and Rotorua are following larger cities in outlawing windscreen washers who put the squeeze on motorists at busy intersections.

Both Bay of Plenty cities will introduce traffic bylaws next year to prohibit the practice, with the added deterrent of a maximum $500 fine. Auckland and Hamilton have also banned the "squeegee bandits."

Tauranga traffic sergeant Colin Gyde said the problem had grown, after beginning as "quite an innocent innovation by young people going down to make a few dollars in an afternoon."

Now it was unsafe and distracting at intersections where many lanes of vehicles were controlled by traffic lights.

"We are concerned about the risks of people running from different angles onto the road and weaving through traffic," he said.

Even a slight delay in traffic flow could clog up congested roads.

Drivers had complained of intimidation by window-cleaners, some of whom had been issued tickets under the Transport Act.

Sergeant Gyde said they had to appear before a judge on charges of loitering on a roadway, "but that is a very heavy approach to dealing with what is a small problem individually, but a big one collectively."

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