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Making our roads safer

January 12, 2013

Dear Sir,

Thirty years ago if you rode your bike or drove your car above 45kph you were liable to receive a ticket and an appointment in traffic court. To avoid seriously annoying other drivers I aim to drive at 40kph but my speed can rise close to 45kph on occasion. I estimate that safely or otherwise about 95 percent of following vehicles pass me. They may shave a minute or two of their travel time between the east or west and Hamilton by passing at speed. The speed limit is still a maximum of 35kph on our roads but operators of vehicles now seem to be able to drive with impunity at speeds approaching and exceeding 60kph and with the powerful bikes and huge private cars now allowed onto our narrow Island roads it is often intimidating to locals let alone our few remaining visitors. Where are the speed cameras that successive governments have talked about? Concerns about the wrong person being charged with reckless speed can easily be resolved by making the registered owner of the vehicle responsible. If it wasn’t them and the vehicle wasn’t stolen then they should know who was operating their property, if not, it is their responsibility to pay the fine and do the time. Appeals accepted.

We need deterrents. We all know that speed kills and if it doesn’t kill it can maim and with respect to victims the cost to the country is massive in medical costs, lost productivity and the importation of parts to fix damaged vehicles. We all pay through excessively high insurance premiums.

Things are not helped by Government widening and straightening roads. We used to drive slowly along our narrow winding roads and took care, now its pedal to the metal or twist to the stop in wide thoroughfares. We should probably build in calming devices to slow people down, not widen roads to overseas standards where higher legal speeds are the norm. (Off the topic but why are we decorating our roads and roundabouts with reflective devices. We know the Causeway has walls, embankments have protective fences and a roundabout has kerbs. These are clearly visible day or night even at 60kph and as we very rarely get fog why do we now need reflectors? How much did that little exercise cost and what does it cost to replace the missing ones or the broken wall ones with jagged edges?)

Back to speed. Speed traps by police officers are a bit of a joke as after the first two minutes almost every approaching driver is warned of what is ahead, so we get an hour or so of slow driving and then it’s back to the race. We don’t need 100 speed cameras, just 100 enclosures with a dozen cameras that can be moved between them on irregular schedules. The idea is to slow people down permanently, not fine them into poverty, but the fines should pay for the cost of installing, operating and maintaining the system. I’d also suggest we get seriously tough on speeders. (I’d like to get tough on all the other irresponsible things our drivers do out there but one thing at a time). I’d raise penalties as follows. Speed 46 to 50kph $250, 51 to 55kph $500 and a three-month ban, 55 to 60kph $750 and a six-month ban, 61kph and above $1,000 and a 12-month ban. Who would speed if the risks of being caught were so high? Only idiots.



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Published January 16, 2013 at 8:00 am (Updated January 15, 2013 at 5:51 pm)

Making our roads safer

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