Trouble spots under watch
'[Yellow] means stop, if you can do so safely'MEGAN MILLER
The next time you think about speeding through a yellow traffic light, keep in mind, you could be on camera.
Timaru traffic police have been out this week monitoring trouble intersections with the help of a video camera and laptop computer provided by the Timaru District Council.
They choose intersections that are traditionally Timaru's highest crash areas, usually along State Highway 1, and set up the video camera to capture the traffic flow for about an hour, explained Senior Constable Alister Doonan. The officer at the site also monitors the traffic firsthand and notes any incidents.
Later police review the footage and send letters to drivers caught behaving badly, sliding through lights that are more red than yellow or signalling improperly. The letter asks for more information on the incident and invites the driver to meet with police and view the footage if they'd like to do so.
''After we get their response we decide how to proceed, whether to issue a warning, or a ticket,'' he said.
The majority of incidents, about 95 per cent, involve drivers trying to speed through yellow lights before they turn red. It's a dangerous habit that contributes to many crashes, he said.
''That light means stop, if you can do so safely.''
The programme has been in place for several years, and Mr Doonan said he believes driver behaviour has improved in that time.
In 2009, police told The Timaru Herald that they'd seen the number of recorded incidents drop from 12 to 16 per hour down to between six and nine.
Now, police typically issue four or five letters for each hour of footage collected, Mr Doonan said.
''Our end goal is to reduce the number of crashes at intersections,'' Mr Doonan said. ''Part of that is to raise awareness.''
- © Fairfax NZ News
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