Police Consider Speed Limit


Police say they will be evaluating the long weekend’s low road toll before making an announcement about extending the crackdown on the speed limit.

But the signs are they will continue it as they are attributing drivers watch their speed to the Queens Birthday toll being the lowest in 50 years.

And Waikato Road Policing Manager, Inspector Leo Tooman says:  ”If we can do it for one weekend, why can’t we have the lower road tolls every weekend, or every week for that matter?”

Mr Tooman says his district had two “close calls” that could have bene disatserous.

About 8.50pm on Saturday, a 22-year-old man driving from Auckland to Taupo fell asleep at the wheel and his car left the road. When breathalysed he blew 833mgms, over twice the legal limit for alcohol.

At 7am yesterday, a 31-year-old woman driving from Te Awamutu to Auckland fell asleep at the wheel and crossed the median on SH1 at Mercer. When breath tested this woman came back with a return of 444mgms.”

Mr Tooman said the legal limit is 400mgms per litre of breath and the woman was driving with three children in her car.




  1. George D says:

    Good. I certainly hope they don’t wimp out in favour of a small group of self-righteous people willing to put everyone else on the road at risk.

  2. George D says:

    I’d also suggest that there were lower speed limits at night (say 10pm-5am), and over holiday weekends. Lowering the limit to 90kph on those weekends when hundreds of thousands of inexperienced drivers hit the roads would save many lives. New Zealand’s open road is nothing like the motorways that city drivers are used to, and when you pack great numbers on it becomes a very significant hazard.

  3. Matt says:

    George, until such time as the police can demonstrate conclusively that it was all about speed and not, say, the greatly-increased visibility of police on the roads, no thinking person should consider themselves to be in a position to support any particular approach. As it stands, all we know for sure is that particularly crappy weather coupled with high-visibility policing has coincided with the lowest road toll for Queen’s Birthday Weekend in 50 years.
    The cops thought they’d cracked the road toll in 2007, then it went up dramatically in 2008. All the focus on speed and DUI didn’t appear to be continuing to make gains, rather the lower toll was attributed to significantly fewer kilometres travelled due to the much higher price of petrol. Could it be that far fewer people went away this past weekend because the weather was so arse? Quite possibly. Could it be that people paid more attention to their driving behaviour because the police were out in great numbers? Quite possibly. Could it be that people drove more carefully because the weather was so arse? Quite possibly. Is any of those reasons related to the focus on speed? Only the second one, and only tangentially. Can the police afford to lay on the numbers every day, night, and weekend? Not without a huge boost in funding from central government, and given that the police budget was cut in the last Budget I think we both know the likelihood of that.

    As for differential speed limits, that’s impractical verging on impossible. The necessary infrastructure to re-post every speed limit sign on every road in the country would be prohibitively expensive, especially when one considers that every sign would have to be electronic in order to remain legible at speed and still display the correct speed limit at any given time.

  4. max says:

    Matt has one thing right - a particular weekend data set isn’t worth much.

    Where he gets it all wrong is to use that fact (that anecdotes don’t make data) as an excuse to rubbish road enforcement along the lines of “it doesn’t make a difference”.

  5. Matt says:

    There are three E’s to road safety: enforcement, engineering, education. NZ is very big on the first, gradually improving on the second, and woeful on the third. The three must be worked in parallel to be truly effective. The big focus for the last 30 years has been enforcement, with the odd concerted effort at engineering in particular danger spots - look at how much the road toll dropped when median barriers were put onto Auckland’s motorways. There’s evidence that the reduction has largely been attributable to the improvement in the safety levels of the national vehicle fleet, but you won’t hear the police talking about that correlation. Education is non-existent, with people still permitted to learn their friends’ and family’s bad driving habits and nary a single hour of required professional instruction in sight. I have hope for the effects of the proposed changes to the process for gaining a driver’s licence, but it could still be buggered up in implementation.

    I didn’t say that enforcement doesn’t make a difference, I said that there’s no evidence to prove that the weekend’s result was all down to enforcement. Even if the cops didn’t pull over a single person all weekend (which I know is not the case, because I saw at least three vehicle stops on my travels), putting large numbers of marked cars on the road has a particularly encouraging effect on driving habits. The police cannot, however, afford to make such shows of force constantly.

  6. George D says:

    I am not making that claim.


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