Holiday blitz on roading black spots

MATT BOWEN
Last updated 05:00 09/12/2013

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Road police will target stretches of Waikato highway deemed high-risk this summer after analysts crunched the numbers on crashes and dangerous driving reports from the past three years.

There are 400 specific times and locations where police will be stationed from December 20 to January 10. And there were between 10 and 20 high-risk tasks each day, Waikato road policing manager, Inspector Marcus Lynam said.

It is part of a police series of preventive measures, including a lower four-kilometre speed tolerance, in an effort to reduce the road toll this holiday period.

"Officers will be radioed via the [northern communications centre] saying ‘you are to go to this stretch of road and patrol it between these times', because it's been identified as a high-risk time for crashes or driving complaints that have come through in the past three years," Mr Lynam said.

It was a more targeted response than in the past, when officers would simply patrol a general area, Mr Lynam said.

"It's about prevention to reduce crashes and complaints which, if not addressed, may also result in a crash - overtaking dangerously and following too close are typical complaints.

"If we've got high-visibility there stopping cars, hopefully it will modify driver behaviour."

Time will tell whether the tactic is effective and it will be reviewed next year.

Meanwhile, Waikato drivers are driving slower on the main road after police announced a lower 4kmh speed tolerance from December 1 to January 31.

Reports from speed camera operators and highway patrol staff show drivers have eased up on the gas.

"When speaking to the drivers they're aware of the campaign and there hasn't been any negative comment so far," Mr Lynam said.

However, speed camera operators in Hamilton's's 50kmh zones haven't noticed the same speed reduction.

And there are still speeders.

During an hour at Ohinewai from 11.30pm there were five tickets issued. Four were for drivers travelling at 113kmh, 118kmh, 119kmh and 133kmh. A heavy vehicle was also caught at 105kmh.

A 16-year-old was caught travelling 161kmh in an 80kmh zone.

Nevertheless, Mr Lynam is pleased with the overall drop in speed.

"Irrespective of the cause of a crash, speed determines the severity of trauma on our roads," he said.

"Accidents are going to happen, it's human nature, so if we can keep that mean speed down, then it's going to have an impact on injuries and deaths.

"International research shows a 5kmh drop in mean speed could save 60 lives nationally."

The speed crackdown and other preventive measures will be reviewed next year and, if effective, could become a regular feature of the summer holiday period.

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matt.bowen@waikatotimes.co.nz

- Waikato Times

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