Driver clocked speeding at 185kmh

A car was clocked doing 185kmh on the Raumati Straight in December – the highest speed recorded on a police camera last year.

Figures obtained under the Official Information Act show the top 10 speeds caught on camera in 2010 ranged from 168kmh to 185kmh. The top speed in the past five years was 200kmh, recorded in Auckland in 2007, at 2.26pm on Christmas Eve.

The figures were revealed on the day an Upper Hutt man was caught driving while disqualified for the 21st time. Michael Wilson escaped a jail sentence because the judge said it would probably be overturned on appeal.

The driver clocked speeding near McKays Crossing at 8.44pm on Thursday, December 9, was recorded on a mobile roadside camera. If they had been forced to stop suddenly, they would have skidded more than the length of 2 1/2 rugby fields.

At that speed, the car would have travelled at least 264 metres if the driver had slammed on the brakes. There is no set fine for anyone travelling that speed.

Transport Agency spokesman Andy Knackstedt said anyone driving at 185kmh on a public road was "a risk not only to himself but everybody on the road".

Other figures show the number of tickets issued at fixed-camera sites. A camera in Waitemata, Auckland, recorded the most, at 12,066, but one in Sanson leaped into second place last year with 10,614. The camera on the downhill side of Ngauranga Gorge remains in the top 10, nabbing 5678.

Automobile Association motoring affairs general manager Mike Noon said extreme speeds were rare , with the average speed consistently dropping. "I would think we actually have less of those very fast vehicles."

Last year the average open-road speed was 96.2kmh, compared with 102.3kmh in 2006.

Mr Noon said the most alarming statistics involved speed-camera statistics, because they showed people were not seeing cameras and adjusting their behaviour.

Each fixed-camera site was chosen to address a specific risk, he said.

Acting Central District road policing manager Inspector Greg Hudson said the Sanson camera was installed to get people to slow down through the town, which sits where SH1 and SH3 meet.

But Mr Noon said most of the tickets would be to drivers passing through, who were not familiar with the change in the speed limit from 100kmh to 50kmh.

New Zealand should follow the international example and paint cameras bright colours for easy spotting, and put up signs warning people that they were entering a speed camera zone, so they could adjust their behaviour accordingly, Mr Noon said.

"What is the purpose of a speed camera, why are we putting it there? We're not putting them there to issue tickets, we're putting them there to try and reduce the speed."

Last year 919,639 speed-camera tickets were issued. Of those, 100,804 were from the 43 fixed-camera sites.

2010 Top Speeds

185kmh – SH1, McKays Crossing-Raumati Rd – 8.44pm, Dec 9

181kmh – SH2, Awakaponga, Bay of Plenty – 6.20pm, Oct 29178kmh – SH25A, Kopu-Hikuai, near Thames – 12.55pm, Dec 4

176kmh – SH27, Matamata – 6.57pm, Jan 9

176kmh – SH45, Hawera – 6.22pm, Aug 21

171kmh – SH26, Morrinsville – 4.09pm, Jan 27

171kmh – SH2, Netherton, Waikato – 12.13pm, July 20

169kmh – SH1, Waipu, Northland – 3.02pm, Nov 28

168kmh – SH1, Ngauranga Gorge, Wellington – 5.04pm, April 3

168kmh – SH3, Ohaupo, Waikato – 6.39pm, June 25

168kmh – SH1, East Taieri, Otago – 8.46pm, Oct 10