Plummeting numbers of drivers caught speeding in the South have coincided with the deadliest year on southern roads in a decade.

The number of drivers caught by speed cameras dropped more than 27% last year, as the last operational fixed camera in the Southern district was turned off in March, figures released under the Official Information Act revealed.

Last year's provisional road toll was the worst since 2001 with 20 people dying on roads in Otago and 16 in Southland.

Eight of New Zealand's 12 police districts are without fixed speed cameras, as police phase out wet-film cameras in preparation for the installation of next-generation speed cameras.


It had been planned to have 57 of these around New Zealand by April last year, but only 13 eventuated with two others undergoing tests.

There is no coverage in the Northland, Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Central or Eastern police districts in the North Island and none in the South Island.

The new cameras monitor up to six lanes of traffic flowing in both directions, capturing digital images and wirelessly transmitting them through a secure network.

Police are yet to detail firm plans for the installation of next-generation cameras in the South, but say other measures are keeping New Zealand's roads safe and speeds down in the interim.

"Police takes road safety seriously and is dedicated to reducing trauma on New Zealand roads," road policing support prevention manager Inspector Gini Welch said.

"By utilising existing resources Southern district police is able to provide coverage to ensure road safety.

"As Southern district has utilised a high-visibility deployment regime, police believe that any effect from the removal of the safety camera in Southern district has been minimal."

Police are continuing to use mobile cameras in the district, but the number of speeders caught has plummeted since the fixed cameras began being phased out.

In the 2013-14 financial year, 37,382 speeders were caught in the district. That fell to 33,063 the following year, while last year it dropped more than a quarter to 23,854. The value of speeding fines has also plummeted, almost halving from $2.82 million five years ago to $1.51 million last year.

Inspector Welch conceded the falling numbers of those caught by speed cameras was attributable to the "transition to police's new safety cameras".

"The delay in deployments was as a result of finalising a proportion of the funding for the project," she said, of the reason for the other 41 cameras promised not yet being installed.

"The previous wet-film cameras were nearing the end of their operation life, therefore police were required to remove the cameras irrespective of the delay in the camera expansion project."

There were plans for the installation of the new cameras in Southern district, but she would not be drawn on details.

"Police do plan to install a new static safety camera in the Southern police district," she said.

"However, police are not in a position to provide any further details until the tender process has been completed.

"As the tender process is still ongoing, Police is not in a position to confirm the future camera sites.

"An installation timeframe will be confirmed once the tender has been awarded."

But while much of the country remains out of the view of fixed speed cameras, the road toll has grown.Last year's provisional toll stands at 328 - the worst since 2010. A further 40 people have died on New Zealand's roads so far this year.

Inspector Welch said police continued to keep New Zealand's roads safe, despite the lack of fixed cameras in many areas.

"Police utilise a number of enforcement and prevention tools in our efforts to reduce trauma on New Zealand roads," she said.

"So while some districts may not currently have a fixed safety camera, tools such as mobile safety cameras and high-visibility deployments have minimised any effect that the removal of the cameras may have."