Snap: no escaping hi-tech speed camera

SPEEDSTERS BEWARE: The new Ngauranga Gorge digital speed camera catches a car over the limit during its tests.
SPEEDSTERS BEWARE: The new Ngauranga Gorge digital speed camera catches a car over the limit during its tests.

It may already be too late for some, but lead-footed drivers should ease up rapidly, with Ngauranga Gorge's new state-of-the art speed cameras going live today.

The 80kmh section of State Highway 1 into and out of Wellington is the first road in the country to get one of 12 new-generation digital cameras.

While all sites to get cameras were chosen for their high levels of speed-related crashes, Ngauranga Gorge's proximity to the police testing centre saw one installed first.

The second one will be set up on Wainuiomata Rd in September.

The cameras will be able to monitor traffic in both directions across as many as six lanes, and to distinguish between vehicles allowed to travel at 100kmh and those, such as trucks, or cars towing trailers, which can travel at only 90kmh.

Images from the digital cameras can be sent by wire over a secure network, unlike traditional cameras, in which the film has to be changed manually.

Road policing assistant commissioner Dave Cliff said the new system underwent an extensive calibration and testing process over the past month to ensure its accuracy and reliability.

"They're about plus or minus 1kmh," he said.

"The old ones used two strips on the road, to measure the time between two strips. The new ones have got a couple of radars, and fire three pulses to check the speeds and then take the middle one. The other one fires and checks which lane it's in and checks its speed as well."

Ngauranga Gorge was also one of the most complex roading systems in the country, making it ideal for testing.

Cliff said the initiative was a safety-focused one, though some drivers might put it down to revenue-collecting. "Any fines go directly to government."

He said 299 people were killed and 6300 injured in speed-related crashes between 2010 and 2012, many at sites chosen for the new cameras. Exceeding the speed limit was a factor in three out of every 10 fatal crashes in the same period, he said.

"That's why police and our road safety partners remain committed to doing all we can to bring speeds down, as what we know from the research both here and overseas is that speed cameras do encourage motorists to slow down."

Over the next two years more "problem spots" will see the new systems set up, with up to 60 cameras by the end of 2016.


July: Ngauranga Gorge, State Highway 1, Wellington September: Wainuiomata Rd, Lower Hutt, Wellington October: Hutt Rd, Lower Hutt, Wellington; Wainui Rd, Lower Hutt, Wellington; Whitford Brown Ave, Porirua, Wellington; State Highway 1, Thorndon, Wellington; Great South Rd, Auckland November: Candia Rd, Auckland; Mill Rd, Auckland; Murphys Rd, Auckland; Great North Rd, Auckland; Tamaki Dr, Auckland

The Dominion Post