13 Jan 2015

Zero tolerance on speed message

4:12 pm on 13 January 2015

The police approach to enforcing a zero-tolerance speed limit over the summer holiday break was inconsistent and a little harsh, the Automobile Association (AA) says.

The Reach the Beach campaign's message on speeding has been criticised as confusing.

The Reach the Beach campaign's message on speeding has been criticised as confusing. Photo: NZ POLICE

During the holidays the speed tolerance level was 4 km/h over the limit, but motorists were under the impression it was zero.

Police Minister Michael Woodhouse has asked for a review of the enforcement message, saying it led to confusion during the road safety campaign.

The 'Reach the Beach' campaign launched before Christmas was aimed at enforcing speed and alcohol limits.

AA general manager of motoring Mike Noon said the message from police was that anything over the speed limit could be enforced, and many of the association's members were confused.

New Zealand First police spokesperson Ron Mark told Summer Report the policy was ridiculous from the start, and people who received tickets should be refunded.

"What we saw over the holiday period is people like grandmothers being ticketed for two kilometres an hour over, we saw people coming home to speed infringement fines, and we heard countless times from people saying that their trips were stressful, they became fearful of the police."

However road safety charity Brake is urging police to try again at Easter weekend with a zero-tolerance speed limit but in a far more articulate way.

Spokesperson Caroline Perry said the speed limit was the limit and not a target and people should know that.

Police told to look again at safety message

Michael Woodhouse

Michael Woodhouse Photo: RNZ / Jane Patterson

Mr Woodhouse said he supported zero-tolerance for poor driving, but feedback indicated the summer holiday enforcement message was confusing.

The use of the term zero-tolerance led people to believe there would be no discretion on the speed limit, but police have told him that was not the case.

"Zero-tolerance was for very poor driving behaviour, that would lead to death and injury on our roads," Mr Woodhouse said.

"Police maintained a discretion, the speed cameras had a 4 [kilometre an hour] discretion but I accept that there may have been some confusion in the mind of the New Zealand public about what those discretions were."

Police needed to reflect on whether the safety messages were as clearly articulated to the New Zealand public as they could have been, he said, because it had led to an anxiety about what the appropriate speed limit was.

The minister hoped the review will be completed in time for any changes to be made before the Easter holiday period.

Seventeen people died on the roads over the official Christmas holiday road toll period, compared to seven last year and six the year before.

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Photo: 123RF

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