Police will enforce new limits

KATIE CHAPMAN
Last updated 06:14 05/08/2014

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Police are about to get tougher on motorists speeding in central Wellington - just as the city council debates whether to widen the 30kmh limit.

Earlier this year, police told councillors that, although they supported a lower speed limit in the CBD, they would not be providing "long-term special policing".

"You're not going to get any more than you currently get," Senior Sergeant Richard Hocken, Wellington district road policing response manager, told them.

But a report to today's subcommittee meeting, looking at widening the 30kmh limit, says it will be enforced. At present, the 30kmh limit is confined to the Golden Mile, but councillors will today discuss extending it to the rest of the CBD.

"Wellington police have agreed to increase speed enforcement, including the safer speed areas," the report from council officers says.

Subcommittee chairman Andy Foster said he had sat down with police and asked for an assurance that the new limits would be targeted. Police had agreed.

"We don't just want to put a whole bunch of signs up and have nothing else change, and enforcement's part of that."

Wellington district road policing manager Inspector Donna Laban said the slower speeds would be part of a district-wide crackdown on speeding, one of several areas into which Wellington police would be pumping extra hours - alongside monitoring seatbelts, cellphone use and intersection behaviour.

"We will be focused on the CBD area, essentially to ensure people are complying with [the 30kmh limit]."

The city would then be monitored alongside other areas, with high-risk areas and problem spots around the district targeted by police, she said. "We'll just be concentrating our staff on particular areas."

The focus on speed follows a steady reduction in the number of fines handed out in the district in recent years.

Across the region, the number of tickets issued fell from 26,441 in 2009 to 16,342 last year. In Wellington City, the number dropped from 7520 to 3644.

Speed camera fines have increased in the same period, from 31,458 district-wide to 52,079 - but there has been a fall since the number peaked at 59,401 in 2011.

Laban said the aim was not to hand out more tickets, but to reduce the number of crashes and their severity, particularly in areas with heavy pedestrian use, where faster speeds had a much greater impact.

"When you get things like vehicles versus pedestrians in that high-built-up area, there usually will be some sort of serious injury."

From 2008 to 2012, there were 766 crashes in the CBD.

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AA Wellington district chairman Michael Gross welcomed news of an enforcement of a 30kmh limit. "If the law is made, it must be enforced - otherwise it is problematical."

However, the AA still believed a package of improvements - such as red light cameras and pedestrian countdown lights, which let people know how much time they had to get across - would be more effective than a speed limit change.

Foster disagreed, and said 30kmh was becoming the international best standard and represented the greatest chance of survival for anyone hit by a car. "If you want to go fast, go around it, don't go through it."

MOST WANT SPEED CUT

Most Wellingtonians want a slower speed in the central city, a Wellington City Council survey has found.

In April a council subcommittee considered 734 submissions on extending the 30kmh limit from the Golden Mile to the rest of the CBD. Exactly half opposed the proposal, and half either supported it or said they agreed with it with some changes.

But a council-commissioned survey found a much higher level of public support, with only 23 per cent of people opposing the proposal, while 49 per cent supported it. A further 13 per cent would oppose it with amendments, and 16 per cent were neutral.

The main reason given for supporting the proposal was increased safety.

The subcommittee's recommendation after today's debate will go to the transport and urban development committee for consideration. That committee's recommendation will be considered by the full council for final adoption later this month.

- The Dominion Post

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