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Two-day roading blitz

More than 1000 Wairarapa drivers have been caught up in a 48-hour police blitz on the region’s roads.

While police were generally pleased with the standard of driving, there was a total of 56 infringement notices issued in operations over Wednesday and Thursday last week.

Of the 949 drivers stopped, 12 were fined for not wearing seatbelts, nine for using a cell phone while driving, and 35 for speeding.

In addition, three drivers were processed for drink driving, with the highest alcohol reading four times the legal limit.

Police confirmed another operation on Thursday, as part of Road Safety Week, saw 211 drivers stopped at a checkpoint near Wairarapa College, with five licence breaches found.

Wairarapa motorsport icon and road safety advocate Aaron Slight wasn’t surprised by the number of people breaking driving rules and said it partly comes down to a lack of regular monitoring.

“You don’t see police as much as you used to. So when you’ve been getting away with it for years, you’ll keep pushing the boat out.”

Slight said there needs to be an increase in active road policing to hold the small but significant percentage of reckless drivers accountable.

“When you put up a speed sign, the only people who pay attention are law-abiding citizens,” he said.

Slight said he was sadly unsurprised at the number of drivers not wearing a seatbelt due to national data on road accidents involving those not belted up.

“We have 350 deaths a year on our roads, and 90 of these come from people not wearing seatbelts.”

Research from the AA Research Foundation in 2018 said up to 30 per cent of deaths from road-related accidents involved people who weren’t wearing their seatbelts.

Slight said it was a high number for something preventable.

“How many years have we been advertising about the fact?” he asked.

Also frustrated with drivers failing to belt up is Wairarapa Road Safety Council manager Bruce Pauling.

“It’s unbelievable really, because dating back decades and decades we’re taught to make a click,” Pauling said.

“It’s boggling. We have the quickest, safest thing you can do as soon as you get into the vehicle.”

Pauling said he is also concerned about what he called ‘the road safety epidemic.’

“Every time there’s a ping, we become distracted and reach out for our phones,” Pauling said.

“People think they can multitask until it’s too late.”

According to Pauling, the average time to read a text [four to five seconds] is enough to cover the length of a football field when travelling at about 90kmh.

“Taking your focus away from the road, a hell of a lot that can happen over that distance,” he said.

Wellington Acting Detective Sergeant Corey Reid said the use of mobile phones, not wearing a seatbelt, intoxicated driving, and speeding are the main factors in serious crashes.

“It’s disappointing to have drivers in our community operating cars while intoxicated or not complying with the road rules.”

Bella Cleary
Bella Cleary
Bella Cleary is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age, originally hailing from Wellington. She is interested in social issues and writes about the local arts and culture scene.

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