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Slow down to prevent road tragedy


In the third of a five-part series on Wairarapa’s road to zero fatal crashes, GIANINA SCHWANECKE explores creeping speedometers and the impact speed has on crashes.

Drivers can be caught out for speeding in three main ways across Wairarapa.

This includes mobile speed cameras, being detected by police officers, or through speed cameras in vehicles registered to police [police speed].

Over the past two years, the number of drivers caught speeding has decreased 4.8 per cent from 6727 drivers caught from July 2018 to June 2019 to 6402 caught from July 2019 to June 2020.

However, in the three months ended June this year, 1949 Wairarapa drivers were caught speeding, a 12.4 per cent increase compared with the same three-month period last year.

There was an especially noticeable spike in May this year as the country moved from Alert Level 3 to Alert Level 2, with a 120 per cent increase compared with May last year.

Most of these drivers were caught by mobile speed cameras which saw an 8.8 per cent increase compared to the same three-month period last year and a 157.5 per cent increase compared with May 2019.

People caught speeding by police cars [police speed] was also up 40 per cent compared with the previous year’s data.

Wairarapa Road Safety Council manager Bruce Pauling said the speed “spike” was related to the covid-19 lockdown.

“[It is] due no doubt to the sense of safety in speeding with little to no traffic on the roads over this period, which leads to a sense of complacency.”

Speeding offences were slightly down in other areas though over the past two years.

There was a 6.4 per cent decrease in the number of speed camera offences.

Mobile speed camera offences were down 6.8 per cent and the number of officer-issued speeding tickets was also down 2.2 per cent.

Pauling said this likely reflected other police priorities during the covid-19 response and also fewer drivers on the road during the lockdown.

“There were other months in 2020 where the reported offences were down, possibly due to police being extremely busy with other covid-19 responses and redeployment.”

He said the majority of speeding offences were detected in the 11-15kmh over the posted speed limit band, where the majority of crashes occurred.

“The risk of serious crashes and associated deaths and serious injuries increase with every 1kmh over the limit.

“Driving at the speed limit or to the conditions also means if you crash, you increase your chances of escaping with just a bent vehicle and not ending up in hospital.”

The faster a car is travelling, the longer it takes for the vehicle to come to a stop during a crash.

A vehicle travelling at 50kmh has a stopping distance of 35 metres; a vehicle travelling at 70kmh has a stopping distance of 56m; and a vehicle travelling at 100kmh has a stopping distance of 98m.

From July 2019 to June 2020, Wairarapa drivers were fined $477,390 for speeding offences, most of which were caught by speed cameras or were officer-issued.

This was down 13 per cent, compared with $548,390 worth of fines issued from July 2018 to June 2019.

Pauling said getting a ticket in this range was not about “revenue gathering”.

“That is a total myth.”

He said with life getting “back to normal” at the moment, it was important to keep road safety front of mind during our journeys, whether it be for work, taking the children to school or on trips on weekends and holidays.

“No matter what restrictions, weather conditions, or traffic density are present, if we all drove 100 per cent of the time with road safety at the forefront of our minds, then our road crash statistics would look a lot healthier, and we can get from ‘A to B’ safely.

“We are all in this together. Do your part on our roads.”

Tomorrow: Seatbelts and restraints.

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