SUBSCRIBER-ONLY POLL RESULT: Are police taking the wrong approach to reducing fatal accidents on NZ roads?

Readers' verdict on the holiday road toll controversy.

Almost all NBR poll participants think the New Zealand Police is taking the wrong approach to reducing fatal car accidents.

The death toll on New Zealand roads this holiday period is more than double the figure from the same period last year, currently sitting on a staggering 17.

Although police have been out in force ticketing drivers 4km over the speed limit, activist say the police and targeting the wrong drivers.

Road safety campaigner Clive Matthew-Wilson says the police strategy for trying to lower the road toll by ticketing ordinary motorists hasn't worked, because ordinary motorists were never really the problem.     

He says police need to leave ordinary drivers alone and concentrate on the groups causing the most accidents.

“The police blame speed and alcohol as a strong factor in many fatalities but it’s not ordinary motorists who are speeding and driving drunk; it’s a tiny minority who are largely alienated from mainstream life.”

An AA summary in 2009 of 300 fatal crashes stated exceeding speed limits isn't a major issue and police surveying has found that even the top 15% of open-road speeders average under 110km/h.

Mr Matthew-Wilson questions how ticketing otherwise law abiding families who have drifted a few kms over the speed limit will stop high-risk drivers.

“That's a bit like trying to stop bank robberies by targeting shoplifting."

Opposition to police speeding rules has been strong; an online petition to end the zero tolerance national speed campaign has already amassed more than 10,000 signatures.

Alex Wills is the man behind the petition and says he’s tired of police wasting resources over policing speed to absurd lengths, to the detriment of regular drivers being caught out on technicalities.

Mr Matthew-Wilson says there are a number of key steps that would “dramatically lower the road toll”.

“After a concrete barrier was installed down the middle of the Auickland Harbour Bridge, the serious accidents stopped immediately. There wasn’t one fewer hoon or drunk driver, yet the accidents stopped simply because the road was changed in a way that prevented mistakes from becoming fatalities.”

An overwhelming 89% of all poll participants agreed the police are taking the wrong approach to reducing fatal accidents on New Zealand roads; leaving just 11% throwing their support behind thepolice. 

Jwalls@nbr.co.nz

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