Bay of Plenty's newest speed camera has racked up nearly $30,000 in fines within its first month of operation in one of the region's worst black spots.
The fixed camera on State Highway 2, between Ōtamarākau and Pukehina, was installed mid-June on a 100km/h stretch of road. Police figures show the camera netted $29,110 for that month.
Of the 85,869 drivers who travelled through the area that month, 264 were caught speeding.
Western Bay of Plenty head of road policing Senior Sergeant Mark Pakes said that when people crashed, regardless of who or what was to blame, speed was "the single factor that most affects the outcome; if and how you survive the crash".
Each area where speed cameras are installed nationwide has identified as having a high crash risk, including SH2, Pakes said.
"We know from international experience that safe speed cameras have an impact on slowing people down, particularly around the sphere of influence of the camera."
There have been several serious or fatal crashes on SH2 at Pukehina and Ōtamarākau over the years. Most recently, Christopher Roughton, 35, and Anna-Jo Liddell, 28, were killed on September 14 when the car they were driving crashed into a large truck.
Pukehina fire chief Errol Watts, who regularly attends such crashes, backed the installation of the fixed speed camera 100 per cent.
Watts said the brigade is often called out to tipped trucks which had taken the Ōtamarākau bends too fast. He expects the camera will help reduce the number of crashes and encourage drivers to be more mindful.
"The road has gotten so much busier; it's quite incredible."
The main danger appeared to be frustrated drivers taking risks while overtaking other vehicles.
"The road is at a point where you are pretty much stuck [with] whatever you're behind for as long as you get to where you are going. And there's not that opportunity to pass like there used to be."
Watts said an average morning at the Pukehina Beach turn off could see a driver waiting behind 15 to 16 cars to get out on to SH2 "and it's really noticeable when someone takes a risk to get out".
"It's not going to improve."
The speed camera is among 33 installed throughout New Zealand as part of a $10 million fixed-camera expansion, announced in July 2013. The fixed cameras are used by police in addition to mobile speed cameras, which often set up in cars parked on the roadside.
In June, Western Bay of Plenty police issued $33,040 of fines from mobile cameras, contributing to a total of $177,080 in the district from January to June.
By comparison, Rotorua police issued $6970 mobile speed camera fines in June as part of a total of $36,770 for those six months, and Taupo issued $11,580 in June and $64,940 from January to June.
National operations manager road policing Inspector Peter McKennie said the fines were not about revenue collecting because police did not keep the money made. Money from fines go into the Crown's consolidated fund instead.
"We're only interested in the impact the cameras have on encouraging people to slow down to safe and appropriate speeds, so they get to their destination safely."
School community applaud speed camera but more action needed
The newest State Highway 2 speed camera has been warmly welcomed by the local school community but some say it alone is not enough for the dangers of the road.
Ōtamarākau School principal Andrea Dance drives to the area from Mount Maunganui every day and said the camera already seemed to be working as a deterrent which was reassuring for teachers, students and families.
"It's that peace of mind that our children, friends and community are able to travel out on that road safely."
Teacher Fleur Rosie-Boyle agreed the speed camera helped slow traffic but another camera "or big slow-down signs" were needed to make the journey to and from school a lot safer, she said.
Rosie-Boyle has been living in the area since 2001 and said she travelled the road into school almost every day during peak traffic times about 7.45am.
"It is not very safe for our school community."
The danger zone was waiting at the intersection and not being able to see the people passing the oncoming traffic, she said.
"It is so dangerous. I have nearly been collected a few times coming to school," she said.
"I got here one morning and thought, 'I've nearly been killed on that road."
She said sun strike was also a problem.
"It is so dangerous coming up that hill," she said.