Despite what some may think I am not against the Police using speed cameras, and having Police ticket people for speeding.

But up until Hawkins became Minister, enforcement was targeted towards the worst offenders. So for example if you catch someone doing 110 km/hr on the Rimutaka Hill Road you book them, while if they are doing 113 km/hr on the Foxton Straits, you might not take action if it is a fine day. Likewise speed cameras used to be set to target the top 15% of speeds at that location, rather than all cars above the tolerance.

The fact is that the limit in a situation depends on the nature of the road, the weather, the car, the driver, condition of the road, are there side roads, how far ahead can you see etc. Now the law could never cope with a different for every road, which varies in sun or rain so we have a law which sets some limits. But sensible enforcement (as we had for most of 80s and 90s) would recognise that most drivers do change their speed to the conditions. , on many trips you are changing your speed every 30 seconds to take account of the conditions.

Now the Police in the 1990s did a very good job of targeting the worst offenders, and the drop showed this. Much of the drop is also due to safer cars etc. But what has happened since 1999.

The NZ Herald shows in 1999 that only 2% of tickets were issued to people driving 1 to 5 kms above the tolerance limit or 11 to 15 km/hr over the posted limit. In 2004 this now makes up 41% of tickets!!! An increase from 2,312 to 161,919.

Now as I said I have little problem with ticketing people driving at 63 km/hr in a busy suburban street, but I would if it is someone just keeping up with traffic flows on Aotea Quay at the same speed. Likewise 113 km/hr on some open roads is unsafe, but there are many many roads where it is very safe.

The Hawkins policy of removing all discretion from the Police does little for road safety, a lot for revenue, but most of all has been responsible for a huge upsurge in antipathy towards the Police, and that is a pity as the vast majority do a very fine job.

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