Southern drivers earn praise from police

NEIL RATLEY
Last updated 05:00 23/04/2014

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Drivers on southern roads during the Easter weekend deserve a pat on the back, police say.

Senior Sergeant Dave Scott, of Dunedin, said despite heavy traffic, especially in Central Otago, motorists were well behaved and there were no deaths or serious crashes.

"They deserve a pat on the back really," Scott said.

Hordes of holiday makers hit the road after several large-scale Easter events including Warbirds Over Wanaka International Airshow, racing at the Central Motor Speedway in Cromwell and the New Zealand Motor Caravan Association national Easter rally in Mosgiel.

Feedback from police staff patrolling the southern district's roads was mostly positive, Scott said.

In the Central Otago area nearly 2000 motorists were stopped and breathalysed.

They also had their vehicles checked for compliance, Scott said.

"Only one driver returned an excess breath alcohol reading. This was a great result considering all those people on the road leaving those events," he said.

However, about 135 tickets were issued for vehicles failing to meet safety standards or having no warrant of fitness or registration.

Southland area commander Inspector Lane Todd said most Southland drivers appeared to heed the annual Easter weekend road safety message.

The police presence began with Operation Unite - a trans-Tasman initiative with Australian police - on Thursday night. Police targeted drink drivers, conducted inner city patrols to ensure no breaches within alcohol ban areas and visited licensed premises.

Todd, who took part in the Invercargill operation, said drivers were well behaved.

Senior Sergeant Wing-wah Ng, of Invercargill, said highway patrol staff reported some familiar bad behaviour during Easter.

"Speeding, overtaking on double yellow lines and crossing centre lines reared their heads again," he said.

"Some people are very blase with their driving and impatience and a lack of concentration also play a part in careless driving."

While police in the south praised drivers, nationally, the Easter road toll was the highest for the period in three years with four people killed. Last Easter, three people died, while there were no deaths in 2012.

Acting national manager of road policing Nic Brown, said the deaths were a tragic and disappointing result.

Police would maintain a highly visible presence on the roads for the remaining week, as many people continued to enjoy a 10-day extended Easter and Anzac break, he said.

"Sadly, it's still the simple things that are seeing too many people killed and injured. We ask everyone to do their bit by slowing down, wearing their seatbelt, staying off the booze and driving to the road and weather conditions, with passengers, friends, family and whanau also having an important role in encouraging drivers to do the right thing. It's basic stuff," he said.

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