Residents living along a Northland road notorious for road crashes say a proposal to reduce speed limits will be pointless in the absence of regular police presence to stop speeding drivers and boy racers.
Vinegar Hill Rd in Tikipunga is among a number of "high-risk" roads throughout Northland earmarked for a review of speed limits under the government's Safer Journeys Strategy.
That road, together with those in Waipu, Ruakaka, and One Tree Pt, are the first ones to be reviewed in Whangārei.
Public consultation carried out by the Whangārei District Council ended on Monday.
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Police data shows speed was a factor in 20 per cent of the 7409 crashes reported in Northland between 2014 and 2018.
Speed contributed to 30 per cent of the 733 fatal and serious injury crashes during that period.
WDC is carrying out the review in a staged process, focusing on areas where evidence indicates that changing the speed limit will greatly reduce fatal and serious harm crashes, and improve overall road safety.
On Vinegar Hill Rd, there were 79 crashes between 2008 and March 31, 2018 and concerned residents said an absence of police gave drivers the licence to drive at whatever speed they liked.
Most of that road has a 100km/h posted speed limit, including around the corners, and the proposal is to reduce it 80km/h in some places and 60km/h in others.
Resident Merv Tonks said no matter what speeds authorities put up along Vinegar Hill Rd, "bloody idiots" were always going to drive at speed on corners.
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"They can't help themselves. It's a twisty road and you drive accordingly but some drivers don't give a damn because it's a back road and there's hardly any police here."
He said recently there have been a couple of crashes around a corner where road works were being done.
"It's not so much roads but the drivers. People just don't know how to drive," Tonks said.
Another resident Dave Butler said someone was going to be killed sooner rather than later because of some drivers who just didn't take notice of the posted speed limit.
He said every time it rained, there were at least two cars on their roofs where road works were happening.
"No one in this area is against a reduction in the posted speed limit but it needs to be policed. You can have 20 kilometres per hour speed limit but people will still do what they like," Butler said.
A woman who didn't want to be named said boy racers and motorcyclists often sped past, especially at night.
"Idiots wouldn't care less because police are never around," she said.
Northland police Senior Sergeant Steve Dickson said officers targeted hot spots across the region, including Vinegar Hill Rd, and undertook a number of prevention and enforcement activities throughout the year.
He said officers took both an "anywhere, anytime", and a targeted risk-based approach to the times and locations they knew were highest risk for certain behaviours.
"On this road, and others, our message is that the speed limit is just that – a limit – not a target. We always encourage motorists to check their speed constantly and always drive to the conditions.
"A small change in speed makes a big difference to injury severity in a crash. Police cannot control the actions of every driver at all times or be inside the car telling you to slow down – road safety is everyone's responsibility," he said.
In the Far North district, hearings on public submissions were held last week and changes to the speed limits are expected some time early next year.
The Far North District Council received 175 public submissions, including from Waipapa Business Association, Springbank School, Far North Holdings, NZ Transport Agency, and Vision Kerikeri.
FNDC is setting traffic speeds on 55 mostly rural roads in Kaeo, Waipapa, Waimate North and Okaihau to ensure limits are safe and appropriate. It does not include state highways.
The council is also proposing variable school speed zones outside Springbank School, outside Waipapa, and Te Rangi Aniwaniwa, in Quarry Rd, north of Kaitaia, as already apply outside many schools while children are present.
Kaipara District Council is also planning a review of speed limits on roads east of Kaiwaka to Mangawhai at this stage but say planning is at a very early stage.
The New Zealand Transport Agency is also seeking feedback on its plans to cut the speed limit between Awanui and Kaingaroa on State Highway 10, between Puketona and Paihia on SH11, and between Moerewa and Kawakawa— including the infamous Three Bridges— on SH1.
Consultation closed yesterday.
For more information on the proposals to reduce speed limit, go to www.wdc.govt.nz, www.fndc.govt.nz, www.nzta.govt.nz/northland-speed-reviews.