Thursday, November 30, 2023

Police clarify speed limit enforcement

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Howick Police sergeant Brett Meale says officers have discretion when deciding whether to fine a speeding motorist. Times photo Wayne Martin

East Auckland motorists can rest assured they won’t automatically be stopped and ticketed by police for driving 1km/h over the posted speed limit.

Police are clarifying their approach to enforcement of speed limits on New Zealand roads after news media recently reported a zero-tolerance stance was being adopted nationwide.

National road policing manager Acting Superintendent Gini Welch was quoted in a news article saying police do not have a threshold when it comes to enforcing posted speed limits.

The story said police were understood to have previously had a 10km/h threshold, except for over long holiday weekends, in relation to speed limits, but the buffer no longer existed.

The reporting led to confusion being expressed on social media, with one post on a Facebook page for Aucklanders receiving dozens of comments from people debating whether or not police had adopted a zero-tolerance approach to speeding.

It also led to anti-tax lobby group the Taxpayers’ Union launching an online petition opposing the alleged change that has received more than 13,000 signatures as of September 4.

However, Howick Police community services supervisor, sergeant Brett Meale, told the Times the police’s policy on enforcing the speed limit on roads nationwide has not changed.

“All police officers are able to use their discretion when deciding whether to issue infringement notices,” Meale says.

He says the individual circumstances of each case determine whether or not police stop and fine a motorist driving in excess of the posted speed limit.

Meale gives an example of someone driving at 10km/h over the speed limit past a school as a situation that’s more likely to result in a fine being issued.

He says he’s attended “plenty” of road crashes that resulted in a fatality due to speeding.

“People need to drive to the conditions.”

Police Assistant Commissioner for Road Policing Sandra Venables reinforces Meale’s message.

“Our frontline staff continue to have the ability to apply discretion where applicable whilst policing our roads,” she says.

“Safety is at the forefront of all that we do. We know there are four main behaviours which contribute to death and injury on our roads.

“People driving too fast for the conditions, driving while impaired, driving while distracted – including using a cell phone – and not being properly restrained.”

Venables says police know when they focus on these four factors “we can reduce the incidents of death and serious injuries on our roads”.

“The speed limit continues to be enforced by police, this is our job and this is what the public expect of us in relation to keeping our roads safe.

“Any road user who is travelling over the speed limit can expect to be stopped and our staff will speak with them and any further action taken, should that be education or enforcement, will be based on the circumstances presented.”

Data compiled by the New Zealand Transport Agency shows speeding was the sole or a part-factor in about 30 per cent of fatal crashes on New Zealand roads from 2014-2018.






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