A fail for zero tolerance

Stuff reports:

Critics have labelled a zero-speed-tolerance campaign a failure as the holiday is more than double last year’s.

A crash in Christchurch this morning brought the number of the people to die on our roads this holiday period to 17. …

Throughout the holiday period police had a zero-tolerance campaign on speeding and also targeted drink-driving after lower limits were introduced last month.

But police were left dismayed at the role speed and alcohol played in the high toll.

“This is more than disappointing. It’s devastating that so many people have lost their lives these holidays and due to the same common factors,” road policing assistant commissioner Dave Cliff said.

“It is a bad decision to drive after drinking. It’s that simple.

“No-one can afford to not intervene and stop their family member or friend from getting behind the wheel after drinking.

“You may think it’s OK, we’ll be right and it won’t happen to them. But crashes are happening, people are getting seriously injured and people are dying.”

NZ First police spokesman Ron Mark said the toll was evidence the zero-tolerance speed campaign was a “failed experiment” and accused the police and the Government of “stealth taxation” via speeding fines.

“It has precious police resources sucked up making good drivers feel like criminals instead of focusing on those driving too fast, too slowly or too badly,” he said.

Drivers were anxious about being caught just over the limit, Mark said: “People are saying to me that instead of driving to the conditions, their eyes are darting from the speedo to road and back again and that every time they see a police car, they instinctively brake despite being well within the .”

Road-safety campaigner Clive Matthew-Wilson, editor of The Dog and Lemon Guide, said the idea that heavy speed-limit enforcement would lower the road toll was “nonsense”.

He said 80 per cent of road deaths happened under the speed limit.

The remaining 20 per cent of fatalities were caused by high-risk drivers who were “almost exclusively yobbos, impaired drivers or motorcyclists – all of whom are basically immune to road safety messages”.

The zero tolerance policy just punished thousands of motorists for driving at 102 km/hr on a motorway. It made it impossible to legally pass a car doing 90 km/hr, so effectively slowed down all single lane roads.

The tolerance policy is an operational decision for Police, not the Government. However the Minister can tell the Police that he thinks it is a bad idea, and hopefully they will listen.

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