It will have come as no surprise to anyone who drives in Tauranga regularly that the city has a red-light runner problem.

In Thursday's Bay of Plenty Times, Sergeant Wayne Hunter said 284 tickets had been issued for people running red or amber lights in Tauranga in the past 12 months - but these figures did not accurately reflect just how bad the problem with red light runners was.

With no traffic light cameras in the city, these 284 tickets were only issued to the people who were silly enough to break the law in front of an on-duty police officer.

Make no bones about it, running a red light is breaking the law, no matter how urgently you need to get somewhere.


And not only is it illegal, it is dangerous.

One of Tauranga's most ticketed intersections, 15th Ave and Fraser St, is an intersection I drive through every day.

Every day, without fail, I see drivers run a red light. Often the light has already been red for some time when a car sprints through, risking collision with a car that has already started moving on the green light.

It's absolutely bonkers. The way the traffic crawls at that intersection, any car sprinting through the red light hits a wall of traffic on the other side anyway.

This selfish move means they then end up stopping in the middle of the intersection and block other cars from moving, making delays worse and frustrating the other drivers waiting for their turn to go.

Recently I was the fourth car in a queue of traffic and had to wait for three changes of the light for my turn to go because of the cars that kept blocking the intersection.

It's a hugely frustrating experience for anyone on the road and also very inconsiderate driving behaviour.

I think having red light cameras on at all of Tauranga's major intersections would be a huge help in changing our city's driver behaviour.


Imagine how much smoother our traffic would flow if drivers stopped safely on the amber lights - like they are supposed to - because they don't want to risk getting an instant $150 fine by running a red light.

It would certainly make drivers think twice before blocking up another lane of traffic if they knew their impatience would cost them $150, and it would probably result in fewer intersection crashes as well.

But Tauranga City Council transportation manager Martin Parkes said the council would only consider using red-light cameras where there was a significant risk of fatal or serious casualties, or an established crash record directly linked to red-light running. None of Tauranga's intersections fit this criteria.

I understand the reasoning behind this - if it ain't broke, don't waste taxpayers' money fixing it.

It's a shame because hitting people where it hurts the most - their pockets - is one of the most effective deterrents we have to correct bad behaviour.