Police decry lack of regard by speedsters

A learner driver allegedly clocked doing 181km/h with his 2-year-old daughter in the car is one of four high-speed incidents in a week putting Northland drivers at risk, a roading policeman says.

In six days police have stopped four drivers who have allegedly been driving at excessive speeds on Northland roads ranging from 157km/h to 181km/h. Northland road policing Senior Sergeant Ian Row said no matter what the cause of the crash was, "the greater the speed, the greater the damage".

"If a driver makes a mistake, it should not lead to a death or serious injury. Anybody who drives at these kinds of speed is seriously increasing the risk of that occurring, to themselves, their passengers, or innocent motorists," he said.

Of particular concern to Roadsafe Northland Whangarei and Kaipara safety education programme manager Gillian Archer was a learner driver who was stopped by police allegedly doing 181km/h on wet roads.


Mr Row said the driver was stopped last Sunday on SH12, Arapohue, just south of Dargaville, about 4.50pm. He had his 2-year-old daughter in the rear passenger seat and an uncle in the front.

"A learner driver has never proven their skill, if they are driving at speed they need to be stopped. Children in New Zealand are vulnerable and I think this is a case of notifying Child Youth and Family because the child, at that speed, is extremely vulnerable because they have no say in the matter," said Ms Archer.

The driver will appear in Dargaville Court next week charged with driving at a dangerous speed, which also invokes a 28-day licence suspension and infringement notices.

Other alleged speedsters included a driver stopped on SH1, Uretiti on June 8 allegedly driving at 165km/h on the busy road. The next day a 38-year-old man, who was travelling to Whangarei to pick up a mate, was stopped on SH1, Ruakaka about 9pm and was allegedly clocked by police doing 157km/h. Mr Row said the driver thought he was "only going 140km/h". The following Monday a driver was stopped on SH1, Hikurangi allegedly doing 166km/h.

Ms Archer said drivers who were willing to put their "own flesh and blood" at risk were "criminal" and called the speeds recorded "horrifying".

"It's really disappointing these drivers are putting themselves and the community at risk and they need to be stopped," she said.

Mr Row said with 18 deaths on Northland roads already this year, drivers needed to change their attitudes.

"Eighteen deaths on our roads is not acceptable. We must change our driving behaviour. Drive below the speed limit, wear your seatbelt, be patient and courteous. Plan your trip so you are not tired, or otherwise impaired, you don't have to rush, and delays don't make you angry or frustrated."

Ms Archer encouraged the community to call *555 when they saw a speeding driving as police "can't be everywhere".

"Community contribution is absolutely invaluable. If someone speeds past you, pull over and call *555. If people are prepared to do these speeds once, they will do it again."

Speeding fines increase progressively from $30 for speeds lower than 10km/h over the limit to $630 for speeds up to 50km/h over the limit. In addition to a fine, speedsters incur demerit points.

If a driver's speed is more than 40km/h above the limit they can receive a 28-day licence suspension. At more than 50km/h over the limit a driver can also be charged with careless, dangerous or reckless driving.