Bryan Ward - Check Your Speed

Publish Date
Friday, 22 January 2016, 9:40AM
By Bryan Ward

Police and their road safety partners are encouraging drivers to ‘check your speed’ and stay safe on the roads this summer.

Police will again be enforcing a reduced 4km/h speed threshold for December and January, with a highly visible presence on the nation's roads as part of a targeted road safety campaign. Every driver stopped can also expect to be breath tested. 

The focus of this campaign is to ensure safer speeds, given that speed not only influences the likelihood of a crash, but also the injury severity and survivability at the time of impact. 

“Police want all families to have a great summer that is memorable for the good times, not a summer ruined by the grief of losing a family member to a fatal crash,” says Superintendent Stephen Greally, National Manager of Road Policing.

“It’s the loved ones that are left behind that have to carry the pain and devastation a fatal crash causes.”

“Police and emergency response staff understand first-hand the grief and trauma that is caused by road crashes. Seeing the carnage at the roadside is traumatic enough, but the worst part is when we have to knock on the door of a family and tell them a loved one has been killed or seriously injured. “

While the long-term road toll trend is tracking downwards, Police and partner agencies are concerned at the current rate of road deaths, which is tracking 22 higher than at the same time last year.

“Sadly, this year’s annual road toll is higher than last year’s. It’s important to remembereach and every number in the road toll represents a lost life — a parent, child, brother, sister or friend who will be greatly missed.” says Mr Greally.

Similar to the previous two summer holiday periods Police will be enforcing the reduced 4km/h speed threshold from 1 December 2015 to 31 January 2016.

This means anyone caught exceeding the posted speed limit by more than 4km/h should expect to be ticketed.

"The reality is that drivers have a simple choice: check your speed, keep to the safe posted speed limit, and avoid a ticket – or worse – a potentially life-altering crash,” Mr Greally says

"Aside from the fact Police do not receive a cent in fines, or that it actually costs us money to issue notices, we'd be delighted to never issue another one, as it would show that everyone was driving safely and responsibly, and the trauma on our roads would reduce overnight."

The previous two summers marked the two lowest ever recorded number of deaths for a December/January period since records began. From 1 December 2014 to 31January 2015 there were 50 road deaths, compared to 42 road deaths the previous year. By comparison, the worst December-January road toll recorded in the last 25 years was 124 deaths in 1990.

Drivers will see billboards around the country asking them to “check your speed”. The majority of the rural billboard sites have been selected according to their proximity to crashes between 2010 and 2014, where ‘too fast for the conditions’ was a crash contributor. Selection was made using Police and road safety sector data.

The road safety campaign is backed strongly by Safer Journeys partners ACC, NZ Transport Agency and the Ministry of Transport.

“All those involved in road safety support the Police’s efforts to reduce deaths and serious injuries on our roads. We all want our friends and families to be safe when they are travelling on the roads over summer,” says Martin Matthews, Secretary for Transport and Chair of the National Road Safety Committee.

An increased police presence on the roads means everyone should expect to be stopped and breath-tested anywhere, any time. However, Police can't do it alone. Families, friends and whānau need to step up and play their part.

"Police will also focus on drivers who impede the flow of traffic, and will issue notices where appropriate. We remind those drivers to pull over where safe to allow traffic to pass, as what we want to avoid is other drivers becoming frustrated then taking risks that put themselves and other road users at risk.”

"Road safety is everyone’s responsibility. Nobody wants to share the road with someone who is not paying attention, speeding or who has been drinking. So please look after each other and make smart decisions on the road this summer.” Mr Greally says. 


The New Zealand summer holiday period (December – February) is traditionally a higher risk period for travel on the roads, when road users typically undertake longer journeys to holiday destinations and attend festive/social events. It also coincides with peak international visitor arrivals to New Zealand.

This results in larger volumes of traffic on the roads and a higher risk period for fatal and serious crashes. Police crash risk analysis for the Christmas/New Year period shows that while the national trend is for injury-related crashes to reduce over this period, serious and fatal crashes increase – particularly in popular holiday regions such as Northland, Bay of Plenty, Eastern and Tasman. The Waikato District also typically experiences an increase in injury crashes; given it’s both a holiday destination and a major transit route. 

Police will therefore maintain a highly visible presence on the roads over summer and will be focusing on high risk driving behaviours such as speeding, drink driving, not wearing safety belts and using mobile phones while driving.

NZ Police would prefer not to issue any speeding tickets because that would mean people were travelling at safe speeds and the risk to people’s lives would be greatly reduced. But anyone caught exceeding the posted speed limit by more than 4km/h should expect to be ticketed. 

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