Wellington's Ngauranga Gorge speed camera reclaims title as NZ's top ticketer
In the battle for speed camera supremacy, Wellington's Ngauranga Gorge camera reigns supreme when it comes to ticketing drivers, earning the Government almost $2.4 million in the process.
A previous top-performer, the camera on Whitford Brown Ave in Porirua, slid down the rankings to fifth during a year when fixed and mobile speed cameras issued 573,971 tickets nationwide and pumped more than $38m into the Government's coffers.
Police have, under the Official Information Act, released details of the country's top 20 speed cameras - both in terms of tickets issued and money generated during the financial year to July.
On both counts the Ngauranga Gorge's fixed camera, which keeps watch over State Highway 1 in and out of Wellington, swept to a convincing win with a tally of 27,232 tickets issued totalling $2,387,700.
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Cameras across the Wellington region were well represented in the top 20, occupying six spots including two cameras on the main road in and out of the Lower Hutt suburb of Wainuiomata.
One of those Wainuiomata cameras has a reputation for being, arguably, the most hated speed camera in the country having been shot twice, beaten and sawn off.
Auckland speed cameras took nine spots, including seven of the top 10. One of those cameras, on Ngapipi Rd, came in sixth, racking up 9763 tickets worth $694,220, despite only going live in February, seven months into the financial year.
Speed cameras in Waikato, Tasman and Rangitikei also made the top 20 list.
Road safety campaigner Clive Matthew-Wilson, editor of The Dog and Lemon Guide, said speed cameras only served to undermine faith in police, who looked like revenue-gatherers.
"If you ask the average voter the major cause of road deaths they'd probably say, 'illegal speeding'. In fact, the reverse is true. About 80 per cent of the road toll occurs below, not above, the speed limit," he said.
"Of the 20 per cent of accidents that occur above the speed limit, almost all are caused by either yobbos, impaired drivers or outlaw motorcyclists."
Ticketing drivers who had drifted slightly over the speed limit had been a "dismal" failure, he said.
"Police are issuing millions of tickets and the road toll has sky-rocketed - quite obviously, something is wrong here."
The number of serious crashes in the Ngauranga Gorge had reduced in recent times, that was down to the installation of a median barrier, not the speed camera, Wilson said.
Road policing national operations manager Peter McKennie rejected the revenue gathering claim, saying police simply wanted to make sure people got to their destination safely. Most drivers understood this, he said.
McKennie agreed the Ngauranga Gorge median barrier could take some credit for reducing the seriousness of crashes in the gorge. But the camera had also reduced the number of crashes, which cause major traffic problems for the capital.
The gorge camera's rise to the top of the list - a position it has regularly held in the past - was partly because an upgrade meant it could now also catch uphill speeders, which were surprisingly numerous, McKennie said.
While the gorge was home to the busiest camera, the percentage of speeding drivers passing through there was proportionally low due to the high traffic volume. Only three out of every 1000 vehicles going past got ticketed.
By comparison, 11 out of every hundred vehicles that passed through the mobile speed camera site on Harewood Rd in Christchurch - the 19th most-ticketed site - got pinged.
The South Island's low placing on the rankings could be largely explained by the fact that it was only now getting second generation fixed cameras, meaning it had been relying on mobile cameras that moved around and generated less tickets in individual spots.
TOP TICKETERS: BUSIEST SPEED CAMERAS IN THE 2016-17 FINANCIAL YEAR
1. Ngauranga Gorge, SH1, Wellington: 27,232 tickets worth $2,387,700
2. Great South Rd, Otahuhu, Auckland: 24,135 tickets issued worth $2,019,410
3. West Coast Rd, Henderson, Auckland: 19,245 tickets issued worth $1,291,110
4. Great North Rd, Kelston, Auckland: 18,575 tickets issued worth $1,239,120.
5. Whitford Brown Ave, Porirua: 17,974 tickets issued worth $1,455,300.
6. Ngapipi Rd, Orakei, Auckland: 9763 tickets issued worth $694,220.
7. Wairau Rd, Wairau Valley, Auckland: 9488 tickets issued worth $543,100.
8. Murphys Rd, Flat Bush, Auckland: 7376 tickets issued worth $603,040.
9. Mill Rd, Totara Park, Auckland: 6485 tickets issued worth $490,650.
10. Wainui Rd, Waiwhetu, Lower Hutt: 6051 tickets issued worth $394,440.
11. SH2, Horokiwi, Wellington: 5811 tickets issued worth $421,840.
12. SH1, Thorndon, Wellington: 5651 tickets issued worth $376,520.
13. Forrest Hill Rd, Forrest Hill, Auckland: 4698 tickets issued worth $244,630.
14. SH1, Meremere, Waikato: 4569 tickets issued worth $260,640.
15. SH1, Ohingaiti, Rangitikei: 4086 tickets issued worth $267,270.
16. Greta North Rd, Grey Lynn, Auckland: 3679 tickets issued worth $340,240.
17. SH1, Horotiu, Waikato: 3453 tickets issued worth $286,720.
18. SH6, Wakefield, Tasman: 3349 tickets issued worth $190,600.
19. Harewood Rd, Christchurch: 3031 tickets issued worth $240,820.
20. Wainuiomata Rd, Lower Hutt, Wellington: 2881 tickets issued worth $223,460.