Keep the tolerance

February 9th, 2012 at 8:09 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Police are “seriously considering” a permanent crackdown on speeding drivers by slashing the 10kmh tolerance they now allow.

The 10kmh tolerance allowed on the top speed limit of 100kmh has been cut to 4kmh over public holidays since 2010. The 4kmh tolerance is now being introduced for the rest of this month.

If the Police do go ahead with this, I expect to see some quality research showing how many crashes occur with drivers driving between 104 and 109 km/hr on open roads.

“We are of the opinion that it’s having a positive effect on the road toll. On that basis, we would be considering it very seriously.

“It will really be an evidence-based decision, it’s about an assessment of whether it saves lives.”

I hope it will be an evidence-based decision, rather than just “we are of the opinion”.

A police spokeswoman said crashes during holiday periods since the change was introduced had fallen 46 per cent.

A meaningless stat by itself, in terms of measuring the impact of the tolerance drop. How much has the crash rate fallen outside the holiday periods? Has the fall been greater during the holiday period? Has the decline in crashes been crashes with speed as a factor?

Automobile Association motoring affairs general manager Mike Noon said: “We’re not convinced that 104kmh poses any significant risk on our best roads. 

Thank you Mr AA.

Dog & Lemon Guide editor Clive Matthew-Wilson said the move would unfairly target innocent motorists, while failing to cut the road toll. “It won’t make the slightest difference.”

A high toll over the latest Christmas period showed the lower speeding tolerance did not work, he said. “Heavy policing does not lower the road toll.”

I’m not saying it won’t make any difference. I’m saying the Police have not yet made a case. Mr Matthew-Wilson does have a point that in the most recent holiday period, there was a high toll despite the tolerance drop.

UPDATE: The Police have said the reduction of the tolerance is temporary, and will not become permanent. Good.

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49 Responses to “Keep the tolerance”

  1. Short Shriveled and Slightly to the Left (786 comments) says:

    I believe this to be complete crap. The biggest risk out on our roads seems to be people making dumb decisions in overtaking. They do this due to frustration (sometimes they are just idiots). Lowering this tolerance will just add to frustration and make overtaking more difficult. I think this will increase the road toll overall as head-on crashes (the deadliest) will increase.

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  2. Manolo (13,774 comments) says:

    Crap it is. Call it for its name: a revenue-gathering exercise by the discredited NZ Police.

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  3. Elaycee (4,392 comments) says:

    Contrary to the myth perpetuated by the Police and the LTSA, speed doesn’t kill.

    What kills is a combination of very poor driving standards / poorly maintained vehicles / poor individual choices.

    But a competent driver travelling on a motorway at 105kph in a modern vehicle????

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  4. Camryn (543 comments) says:

    Why allow any tolerance? Limit means limit. It seems that the posted limit is 100kph, but everyone is supposed to know that the real limit is 104kph or 110kph.

    My 2c…
    * Adjust limits up to 120kph on good roads incl. anything called “motorway” or “carriageway”.
    * Enforce limits as limits, with exceptions based on police discretion, not another secret limit.
    * Legally define “discretion” as being based on risk of accident.

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  5. kowtow (8,475 comments) says:

    What about serious injury crashes? No one counts the toll or cost of those.

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  6. Yvette (2,820 comments) says:

    The 10kmh tolerance allowed on the top speed limit of 100kmh has been cut to 4kmh over public holidays since 2010. The 4kmh tolerance is now being introduced for the rest of this month.

    “Good morning – we have stopped you to check licence and registration and to ask if you know what the speed-limit is today …”

    “Oh, so it is like drug driving – What do we think? – you haven’t officially worked out your-bloody-selves yet if it is good or bad …”

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  7. Camryn (543 comments) says:

    Interesting data for this discussion: fatalities per distance traveled for different countries. NZ is slightly higher than the US, where speed limits tend to be 65-70 mph (varies by state) i.e. 104-112 kph (and not at all strictly enforced).

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  8. Brian Harmer (687 comments) says:

    Manolo’s mantra about revenue gathering doesn’t take into account the fact that all fines go directly to the government, none to the police. There is no financial incentive for the police whatsoever.

    I agree with Camryn’s first post. Whatever the limit is, and I have no strong views about that, if you choose to exceeed it, you expect to pay the price, and stop whining.

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  9. Mark Unsworth (41 comments) says:

    I agree we need to be very cautious with the police who seem to want to be enforcement officers as well as advocates for their own private views.
    A concern I have always had relates to what traffic cops call ” alcohol related accidents” My understanding is that wide term includes alcohol vein detected in the crash vehicle.In reality,unless the driver is impaired by alcohol then it doesn’t matter or impact on the accident.If someone in the back seat had been drinking then that is hardly relevent

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  10. david (2,557 comments) says:

    And the frog just gets warmer and warmer …………..

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  11. Davo36 (35 comments) says:

    The money most definitely goes to the Police.

    If they go ahead with this change, then they may as well upgrade their uniforms too.

    They would read: NZ Police, a Division of the IRD.

    Oh and by the way, wasn’t the road toll higher this year than last over Christmas? Yes it was. And with the 4 km/h tolerance in place, so it doesn’t even work.

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  12. AG (1,827 comments) says:

    Rather than complaining about how the Police choose to exercise their enforcement discretion, why isn’t this a post decrying the Government’s failure to properly adjust the speeding limit by way of regulation under the Land Transport Act 1998, s.167? After all, the legal speed limit on the open road is 100 km/h, not 105 or 110 km/h. So if you think that is a problem, why not have a go at the Government that has control over the law … you know … the National Party one?

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  13. gazzmaniac (2,307 comments) says:

    The same debate has come up in Queensland in the last couple of weeks. Everyone here has seen right through it as well.

    One has to wonder if the heads of all the traffic divisions of the 6 states and NZ have all just had a big conference about this, and someone brought it up.

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  14. Owen McShane (1,226 comments) says:

    The reason for the original tolerance was to recognise that speedometers have a margin of error. And what’s more the margin varies with the air pressure in your tires etc. So a driver may be convinced they are driving at 99 kmh but are in reality driving at 105kph.

    This tolerance reduction should be based on evidence that speedos are getting more precise – and maybe they are. But there are still plenty of old cars on the road.

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  15. Griff (7,713 comments) says:

    I would far prefer the police focused on bad or ignorant driving
    I have been working in the far north for the last three months and have such made many trips between Auckland and Whangarei towing a trailer If there are more than two cars behind me I pull over and let them pass.
    The number of ignorant drivers that fall to keep left, drive at way below the limit and fail to let traffic pass, pull into the passing lane at the beginning and fail to accelerate or move left in till the end of the lane . drive slowly when it is single lane then accelerate to 110 on passing lanes astounds me
    The first rule of the road code is keep left why do the police not enforce this In my life I have seen only one car pulled over for it
    speedos are commonly out by 5% to 10% yet some seem to think that their speedos are totally accurate and its ok to obstruct traffic
    All the police are interested in is speeding. The only places I see cops are in the dome valley and the pohoi tunnels hoping to catch out drivers still traveling at 100 when its a 80 zone

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  16. flipper (4,065 comments) says:

    The real problem with this issue is the media-driven, police hyperbole on accidents. The headlines and poor quality journalism create a “perfect storm”.
    It has always been well known by thinkers within the road safety loop that road death/accident tolls during any particular period are largely a matter of chance.

    If the measure is the number of accidents that is just one measure (in itself, helpful, but not definitive).

    But what about the number of accidents involving a) on coming vehicles and ond/or b) following vehicles, or c) no other vehicle?

    Then there is the issue of death. One vehicle may contain 1 person. The other may have six. Seven may die, but in a similar accident where the vehicles contained only two persons, the toll would be two(2). Chance!

    None of those address cause – road design, speed limits, weather, speed, carelessness, alcohol impaired driving …….
    And so the list could go on…..

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  17. peterwn (3,272 comments) says:

    Interestingly modern digital electronics mean that there are no calibration issues with speed measuring technologies used by the police (in the old days with ‘analogue’ microwave speed traps, traffic cops had to use tuning forks to check their calibration). They are as accurate as quartz watches since they both use the same measuring technology. However vehicle manufacturers still provide low tech speedometers for cars which can be several kph out, although I understand they read on the ‘high’ side. The time surely has come for manufacturers (together with TANZ) to provide hi tech accurate speedos complete with warning when the limit is exceeded. They would need to work on an ‘optical mouse’ type principle rather than wheel revolutions.

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  18. Cunningham (844 comments) says:

    It will certainly make a difference…..to the amount of revenue they collect from speeding fines. I would bet my left nut that is the ONLY reason they are considering it.

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  19. Griff (7,713 comments) says:

    Most manufactures deliberately fit speedos that are five plus percent out
    this is to insure that they dont get sued for accidents in the USA

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  20. backster (2,172 comments) says:

    I understood that the reason for the tolerance was to allow for inaccuracies in the Police Radar devices and that Police did not want that inaccuracy tested in court.

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  21. RRM (9,924 comments) says:

    DPF: If the Police do go ahead with this, I expect to see some quality research showing how many crashes occur with drivers driving between 104 and 109 km/hr on open roads.

    Why should they?

    There is no reason at all for law enforcement to turn a blind eye to ANY exceedence of the legal speed limit whatsoever.

    The open road speed limit is 100km/h. Not 109km/h, and not even 104km/h.

    For a long time they have chosen to leave this margin of grace, and they have only now realised that most people take the piss out of it and cruise along at 107km/h, all day every day, so they are reining it in.

    It behoves on YOU to make sure that YOU drive within the legal limit. It does not behove on the Police to stretch/fudge the law so that you can sit right on (or slightly above) the limit with impunity.

    [And the people on these threads who inevitably say "but it's too hard to regulate your speed to within a few km/h" need to go away and upskill themselves, because no, it's not hard.]

    /authoritarian rant

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  22. redqueen (562 comments) says:

    Just raise the limited to 110km/h and then put in ‘zero tolerance’ (although, in reality, the Police need to prove their equipment was actually reading the correct range). That way we can avoid random policing and get back to keeping our eyes on the road :)

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  23. MT_Tinman (3,186 comments) says:

    My work vehicle is under 5 years old and by a reputable manufacturer.

    It has a speedometer variation of over 10%.

    I have driven three other vehicles with similar transmissions all of which have a variance of over 10%.

    Until legislation requires importers (and therefore manufacturers) to ensure there is no variance the 10K leeway should remain.

    As an aside the worst (machine driven) road hazard encountered today is slow and inconsiderate driving – something those policing the roads continue to ignore.

    I suggest time put into this area would be far better spent than revenue raising from people driving perfectly safely at 55KPH.

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  24. Nigel (514 comments) says:

    Sure they have reduced the speeds on the roads, but done nothing to improve the quality of the driving ( heck police are amongst the worst for tail gating / killing motorcyclists doing u-turns around blind corners ), so the road toll went down for awhile, but as people adjust to being safer at lower speeds they have done increased the amount of dumb things they do, so the road toll goes back up.
    Just my take, until they change driver behaviour they are fighting the wrong battle.
    ( Last thought, the ends of passing lanes are a lottery, worse than intersections in my experience, if not nearly as frequently encountered ).

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  25. Fletch (6,389 comments) says:

    I had to take some people in a work van to Auckland CBD, and said van had one of those devices that only allows it to travel at 100 Km/h. I’ll tell you what, it was a damn nuisance. In fact it made me feel emasculated and helpless almost.

    There are times when you need to pass something that is going slightly slower and you know you can’t do it; perhaps to get ahead of it into another lane or to turn off. I hope I never have to drive the damn thing again.

    There is good reason to have the speed limit slightly over 100 KM, especially for passing manoeuvres. I believe it is required for the general safety of all motorists. I’m not talking about wazzing off at 120 KM/h like a boy racer.

    As others have said, I don’t believe it will make the least amount of difference to the road toll. It will only succeed in revenue raising, which I think is the whole point.

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  26. Chuck Bird (4,883 comments) says:

    I do not mind the tolerance so much normally. I can tell my speed accurately with my GPS and then set cruise control. What really would annoy me is to get a ticket while passing a truck and trailer. The safest way is to do as quickly as possible within reason. I would hope I would not get a ticket doing 105 while passing a truck.

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  27. Longknives (4,746 comments) says:

    The Good-Ol’ testosterone filled Kiwi-Bloke just doesn’t like being told he has to keep to the speed limit does he?
    The same tired old arguments come out- ‘Revenue gathering’, ‘I’m a better driver than everyone else so I should be able to drive as fast as I want’ ‘Overseas you can drive 120 kph’ blah blah
    This is New Zealand. Our roads are predominantly bloody dangerous and not designed for high speed.
    I got a speeding ticket myself the other day- Shit happens, Suck it up, pay the fine and grow up. I hate to break it to you but you are not all Sebastian Vettel…

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  28. Chuck Bird (4,883 comments) says:

    “I’m not talking about wazzing off at 120 KM/h like a boy racer.”

    I would disagree. If I am passing an 18 metre truck and trailer I would probably get up to 120 briefly while passing. The less time on the wrong side of the road the safest. Also, if I pull out to pass and someone follows me I have no option but to continue the passing maneuver.

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  29. Nigel (514 comments) says:

    Longknives, there’s a difference between driving safely ( reducing time in danger on the wrong side of the road or outside lane in a passing lane, the passing lane you don’t want crunched at the end ) and blasting everywhere at 120kph.
    Also why cannot the top 1/2 of the Northern Motorway & Bottom 1/2 of the Southern in Auckland not be 120kph, they are definitely good enough, not to mention the Wellington-Hutt Motorway.

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  30. RRM (9,924 comments) says:

    Nigel –

    Yes I think there is a good case for making some roads faster, as they have been improved out of sight from what they were when speed limits were set, and so have most of the cars using them. (I own a 1972 car, and I also drive a range of brand-new company cars so I feel I understand the difference and can say that with some justification!)

    I don’t think the Hutt road is a good candidate though, traffic lights in 100km/h areas are not a good idea (IMHO) let alone faster traffic still. And most people can’t seem to negotiate the curves along the Horokiwi / harbour edge part at much more than 90km/h anyway…

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  31. CJPhoto (221 comments) says:

    I was photographed on the northern motorway just before the toll road going 105kph. No other car in the photo. The speed limit should have been 110kph. I believe it was perfectly safe to be going that speed.

    Why a well designed dual carriage way has the same limit as a narrow windy country road with loose gravel on the corners defies belief.

    The fact that so many people speed and there is no social stigma to (marginally) speeding , just goes to show the general public disagree with the law.

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  32. Camryn (543 comments) says:

    Peterwn – If manufacturers did fit accurate speedometers using “optical mouse” technology, I think that’d be a great solution. With a little bit more technology, Police radars would not need to be accurate as they could “query the car” and you’d be telling them how fast you were going. Alternatively, your car could tell on you automatically and there’d be no need to have police involved at all. Opps… just gave them ideas. Moot anyway… Google will ensure we’re not doing the driving before long (more time to put ads in front of us once we’re passive passengers in our own cars).

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  33. bhudson (4,740 comments) says:

    AG,

    After all, the legal speed limit on the open road is 100 km/h, not 105 or 110 km/h. So if you think that is a problem, why not have a go at the Government that has control over the law…

    That would seem to be an interesting position. So you are advocating that government get active in operational control of the police?

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  34. Fletch (6,389 comments) says:

    I would disagree. If I am passing an 18 metre truck and trailer I would probably get up to 120 briefly while passing. The less time on the wrong side of the road the safest.

    Chuck, I would totally agree with you. I think I meant that I wouldn’t travel all the time at 120 KM like a boy racer; but yeh, I’d definitely put on the speed to pass a truck as soon as I could.

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  35. Scott Chris (6,137 comments) says:

    Elacyee reckons:- “Contrary to the myth perpetuated by the Police and the LTSA, speed doesn’t kill.”

    Rubbish.
    ________________________________________________________________________________________________

    Give us an inch, we’ll take a mile. I’d be comfortable with zero tolerance, but there would be arguments about instrument calibration, so 4kmh tolerance makes sense to me.

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  36. cabbage (455 comments) says:

    I always look upon these discussions with a certain level of amusement. The law will never cater well to everyone, so it needs to cater to the lowest common denominator.

    The vehicle I choose to drive daily is 1500kg, has four pot calipers and 325mm discs up the front and High performance brake pads. Its AWD, and turbo. It has to be the most communicative car I have ever owned, and really comes in to its own when its being driven fast. and it absolutely stops on a dime.

    However. One is simply not able to compare this car, and a Nissan Serena filled with 6 100Kg+ Islanders. The law cannot distinguish, and thus by default the law must be written with the Nissan Serena and its driver in mind.

    I have a passion for cars and a passion for driving. I am one of the more courteous drivers on the road, but i do like to drive fast. However, i recognise that most people are not like me, and i understand that those who dont have a passion for driving, don’t tend to do it so well.

    The law MUST be written with those people in mind.

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  37. DylanReeve (166 comments) says:

    Something I’ve noticed when driving during these “lower tolerance” periods is that I feel more distracted. I am checking the speedo much more frequently which means I am not concentrating as closely on the road. Certainly with our family car the engine isn’t especially powerful or responsive, a slight uphill can easily slow the vehicle a few KM and a downhill can quickly add speed. Without having to focus too much on the speedo I can easily keep it to 95-110 on the open road or motorway, but if I want to make sure I’m always sitting right on 100 then I need to be constantly adjusting and checking.

    I actually feel less safe driving when I am constantly worrying about my speed within a very confined range. I don’t want to be much under 100 lest I end up with some jackass tailgating me, and I can’t go over as I don’t want to collect a fine.

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  38. kowtow (8,475 comments) says:

    It’s all bollocks.
    Some idiot driving at 50 kph down a narrow suburban road with cars parked on each side is far more dangerous than someone
    doing 109 on a nice straight strech of good clear high way.
    And who is breaking the law?

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  39. peterwn (3,272 comments) says:

    backster – in the old days you could call a physics professor to explain to the court how the thing might be miscalibrated or how the beam could bounce off other things, etc, etc. These old ones had a ‘dish’ even larger than Sky dishes. The modern ones do not have these problems – I am unaware of any technological challenges to speed detectors in recent times. Even a home made speed camera constructed by a hobbyist is accurate and the cops successfully prosecuted a motorist ‘caught’ with such a device.

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  40. side show bob (3,660 comments) says:

    Oh dear is the police bar looking a bit lean ? It’s always been about the money. This country becomes more like Sherwood Forrest everyday, where the state and it’s employees become the sheriff of Nottingham and the general populace are simply hosts, to be bled dry .

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  41. swan (665 comments) says:

    “We’re not convinced that 104kmh poses any significant risk on our best roads.”

    That statement would indicate we need a different speed limit from our “best roads” to other roads. So dual carriageway 110, Single carriageway 100, with low tolerance on both?

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  42. edhunter (547 comments) says:

    If this govt or any govt worldwide was serious about “road safety” & speed “limits” why wouldn’t they insist on speed limiters being fitted to all vehicles limiting them to a max speed? Even better limit the size & power of a car’s engines Don’t get me wrong I’d hate it & the falcon wouldn’t appreciate it too much either & I’m sure Jeremy Clarkson would shoot himself but if they were serious about it isn’t that what you would do? After all what’s the point of a car with a with a max speed of 200km + when the max speed limit is 100km.

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  43. ross (1,437 comments) says:

    Many police break the speed limit, so they clearly believe that they can drive safely over the limit. One of the country’s top cops thinks 120khm is fine. I guess it’s all about context. :)

    http://tvnz.co.nz/national-news/top-cop-caught-speeding-3990934

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  44. DylanReeve (166 comments) says:

    I’d be very interesting to know if that cop ended up paying the fine or was it excused. He claimed, apparently, to be working.

    Edit: Never mind, I Googled it… He paid, but not before initiating an $8000 investigation with his initial story.

    http://tvnz.co.nz/national-news/top-cop-pays-speeding-fine-after-8000-probe-4337127

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  45. wreck1080 (3,917 comments) says:

    umm in our area it is already 5kph tolerance to the end of Feb.

    I reckon at least 1/4 of the year is restricted already.

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  46. Yvette (2,820 comments) says:

    Earlier – 8.40am
    “Good morning – we have stopped you to check licence and registration and to ask if you know what the speed-limit is today …”

    Police have today done a U-turn on their announcement that they were “seriously considering” a permanent crackdown on speeding drivers by slashing the 10kmh tolerance they allow for.
    Acting Assistant Commissioner of Operations Andy McGregor this afternoon said police were not considering a “permanent reduced tolerance”.
    The announcement comes after Acting Superintendent Rob Morgan yesterday told The Dominion Post that a permanent option was on the cards.

    Now –
    “Good afternoon – we have stopped you again to check licence and registration and to ask if you know what the speed-limit is today … and if it helps with your guess, I’ll tell you it is different now to what it was this morning …”

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  47. kowtow (8,475 comments) says:

    I wish they’d do something about those drivers who don’t even look at the road when they’re driving, you know those idiots you see looking into their laps cos they’re fricken texting.

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  48. nasska (11,509 comments) says:

    This could be a cunning ploy, by the authorities (& nannies who naturally know what is best for us), to bring the road toll down to zero & abolish unemployment in one move.

    You will all have noticed that double yellow lines have been painted down the middle of about a third of the state highways. The police point blank refuse to do anything about the senile old fools who struggle to maintain 60kph on the open road yet relentlessly hound speedsters to ensure a good return to their political masters.

    All that is left is to join up the yellow lines, drop the speed limit to 5kph & go back to the early days of motoring in Britain where a man had to walk in front of the vehicle carrying a flag.

    Magic! No more high speed accidents….people will die naturally in their sleep during car journeys & instead of dole queues there will be thousands of superfit former beneficiaries.

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  49. RRM (9,924 comments) says:

    nasska –

    What you overlook (or perhaps are unaware of) in making that reductio ad absurdam – is what the British had, BEFORE they introduced the 5mph + man with flag thing… i.e. what motivated them to introduce that?

    What the British had, in the first decade of motor cars (before they introduced the 5mph + man with flag thing) was about 5,000 motorcar related deaths per year. At a time when there were about 10,000 cars on the road. I.e. 1 out of every 2 cars had killed someone in the previous 12 months.

    You have to make road rules that suit the conditions you live in…

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