Why speed enforcement?

WATCH OUT: Constable Jackie Pearce monitors the speed of traffic on Quay St.
WATCH OUT: Constable Jackie Pearce monitors the speed of traffic on Quay St.

Drivers face strict speeding controls over summer as police try to curb the number of traffic accidents. Reporter Emma Whittaker joined Auckland City Police District Commander Superintendent Mike Clement and Constable Jackie Pearce on the road to see how motorists are adapting.

The reaction police get to giving out speeding tickets isn't always gracious.

"Our staff have a good manner but some people spark up because they think it's a waste of time or it's just revenue gathering," Superintendent Mike Clement says.

"You feel like saying to them ‘what response would modify your behaviour?' "

Until January 31 motorists caught driving more than 4kmh above the speed limit will be fined.

A 10kmh tolerance applies at other times and this is the first time the lower threshold has been extended beyond the traditional holiday period.

"We have a small tolerance because we want to eliminate any notions that the speed-detection units aren't accurate, even though they're calibrated - the speed is the speed.

"Over the years that's crept out to 10kmh and we've seen the folly of that."

Speed was a factor in six out of the seven fatal car accidents in the Auckland district between January and October this year.

Those on foot are also at greater risk in Auckland with three out of the seven fatal crashes involving pedestrians - well above the national average of 11 per cent.

"We have to be mindful of this when people come out and say ‘what's the difference between 55kmh and 60kmh?' The consequences of getting hit by a car travelling at 65kmh as opposed to 50kmh is huge."

The overall goal is to reduce the number of people being hurt or killed.

A common excuse officers hear from those they pull over is it's just a busy time of year, Mr Clement says.

One driver stopped by constable Jackie Pearce on Quay St last week was doing 71kmh in the 50kmh zone.

The woman is a tourist and due to leave the country in a matter of days, so there is little point in giving her a ticket, Mr Clement says.

Instead Ms Pearce talks to her about the law and is confident the woman will drive more carefully for the rest of the time she is here.

"She was mortified and very apologetic," she says.

The job is not without risk. Last week Ms Pearce was standing on the road with her speed laser when a car doing 100kmh in a 50kmh zone sped by her. The driver was stopped down the road.

"A lot of people think we're hiding when we're out here, but we're not hiding when we're standing here in big glow coats, often waving torches. You can't stand in front of the car blatantly lasering without a risk to your own safety."

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