Race day drivers obeyed the rules

KATHRYN KING
Last updated 12:00 28/12/2012

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Palmerston North police are pleased no one was caught drink driving as they left the Boxing Day race meeting at Awapuni.

Sergeant Mike Yates said behaviour at the annual Boxing Day races was generally good, with one arrest made when a man tried to steal beer from a chiller.

About 20 police staff worked at the event.

Police checkpoints on Racecourse Rd and Te Wanaka Rd at the end of the day did not catch a single drink driver, he said.

It was the second year they had posted the checkpoints, and behaviour at the races had been continually improving over the years.

"Crowds have gotten better and better. It's a very family-oriented crowd."

It was great to see people sticking to the rules, he said.

Meanwhile, Central District police used a fixed-wing aircraft on Boxing Day to help monitor traffic flow on State Highways 1 and 2, as motorists travelled to Palmerston North for the races, and Whanganui for the Cemetery Circuit motorcycle races.

Among the incidents spotted from the plane was a car travelling at speeds of up to 135kmh on SH3, and trying to avoid police by taking back roads. The plane was also used to track down a motor home reported as being driven dangerously.

Both vehicles were stopped by police using that information, road policing manager Inspector David White said.

Using a plane to help with traffic was first trialled four or five years ago, and police would look at using it again at other peak traffic times, he said.

Christmas traffic usually peaked in Manawatu during the few days before and after Christmas, but there was not a specific date where people tended to be coming back.

Slow traffic and "choke points" were a particular concern, he said.

On Boxing Day, the amount of traffic on State Highway 1 prompted police communications to release a warning to motorists about slow traffic through the lower North Island.

Mr White said he had been driving on State Highway 1 on that day himself and traffic was flowing, but cars were travelling at 90kmh.

Officers in the plane reported that while the traffic flow was very heavy, in general driver behaviour was good, he said.

Police are focusing on "the fatal five" - speed, no seatbelts, alcohol, distraction, and fatigue - over the holiday period.

The holiday period runs from 4pm on December 24 to 7am on January 7.

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- Manawatu Standard

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