More drivers are being caught speeding, but police are pulling over fewer people.
The increase is due mostly to the rise in the number of speed cameras, figures obtained under the Official Information Act show.
Last year almost twice as many drivers were caught by speed cameras as in 2009, and the number of speeding tickets issued has risen 25 per cent in the past five years.
But though more cars were going past cameras, the percentage caught speeding was dropping, police road policing operations manager Rob Morgan said. That was evident in Wellington's Ngauranga Gorge, where the downhill speed camera – for years one of the top spots for being caught speeding – had fallen off the top five worst speed camera sites.
The worst camera sites are now in Auckland, and most of the extra tickets are being issued in the top of the North Island, because that is where most of the new digital cameras have been installed.
The latest figures reflected the use of 12 more cameras, Mr Morgan said. A drop in speed camera tickets in 2009 reflected the switch to digital technology, but that had since recovered, with a 90 per cent increase in the number of tickets from 2009 to 2010.
The 919,639 tickets handed out last year compared with 735,799 in 2006. In the same period, there was a 46 per cent rise in the number of drivers caught by speed cameras.
Revenue from cameras rose by about $12 million to $50m last year, while revenue from officer-issued tickets dropped about $4m to $36m.
The mean speed on the open road last year was 96.2kmh, the lowest since a Transport Ministry survey began in 1995.
But though drivers may be slowing down, police would continue to push for more cameras, Mr Morgan said. "We would be trying to make a case to say that we should be deploying more cameras on the basis that it's been proven to drive down speed, and driving down speed saves lives."
AA motoring affairs general manager Mike Noon said it was important that extra cameras were in high-risk areas where speeding drivers were most likely to put other road users at risk. Many drivers were getting caught out in areas where they may not have noticed a change in the speed limit. "Since we miss most of the speed signs on the side of the road, it's becoming far easier to be caught out."
A new charity hoping to bring down the road toll is being launched today.
Brake New Zealand starts the same day as the "decade of action" to end road deaths, being spearheaded by the World Health Organisation and United Nations.
Brake promotes campaigns and education initiatives to stop road deaths, and supports people bereaved or injured by crashes.
Chief executive Mary Williams says drivers have to take responsibility, and calls on people to pledge to put road safety first. "Road deaths and injuries are no accident."
- The Dominion Post