Speed tolerance makes a difference

Last updated 05:00 01/02/2014

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Lowering the speed tolerance in summer is being credited with making the roads safer, but there are no plans to make the change permanent.

From December 1 till midnight last night, police had a tolerance of just 4kmh above the speed limit for all drivers. It was the first time the reduced speed tolerance was extended beyond an official holiday period.

As of last night, 42 people had died on the roads in December and January. In the same two-month period a year ago, 57 people died on the roads.

Overall, 2013 had the lowest road toll in 60 years with 254 people dying. The toll in December was 23 deaths, the lowest on record. There were also only 19 road deaths in January, the second lowest on record.

Police Minister Anne Tolley said she believed a targeted speed reduction could make a difference sometimes but there were no plans to extend it. She had received positive feedback from police about the campaign.

"The most important thing to remember is that this is not a revenue-gathering exercise - this is all about reducing fatalities and injuries on our roads."

Along with lower speed tolerance, police also trialled red and orange patrol cars aimed at increasing officer visibility. During the next year, 28 of the bright cars will be introduced as existing vehicles are replaced.

Police national road manager Superintendent Carey Griffiths said the public appeared positive about the lowered tolerance. Most motorists stopped for speeding were apologetic, he said. The 4kmh threshold would remain permanently around all schools and the targeted summer campaign would be assessed in the next few months.

Automobile Association motoring affairs manager Mike Noon said it would be premature to make the lower speed tolerance permanent.

A survey of 10,000 AA members found 57 per cent of motorists supported the extended lower tolerance for December and January, while 37 per cent were opposed.

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- The Dominion Post

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