Police announced last week that they would allow only a 4 kilometre an hour tolerance above speed limits on all holiday weekends:
“We believe that lowering the tolerance has made a real difference to the number of deaths on the roads over the holiday periods”, said Superintendent Paula Rose, National Manager Road Policing today.
The lowered tolerance was introduced last Queen’s Birthday after a disastrous Easter when 12 people died on the roads. That Queen’s Birthday weekend saw a huge turnaround with only two deaths and a more than 30 percent reduction in crashes.
Since that weekend, during each holiday period Police have introduced the lowered tolerance and have seen a consistently lowered holiday road toll.
“We think that it is making a difference and that as most drivers have now become used to the idea, it seems obvious to introduce it permanently. The lowered tolerance does have the unexpected benefit of making drivers concentrate and focus on their driving and their speed. This has spin-off benefits in making their driving safer,” said Superintendent Rose.
This weekend had pretty good weather and that would also have played a part in reducing the accident rate but the superintendent’s last point is the pertinent one.
If lowering the tolerance in itself was such an important factor it would be lowered all the time and not just at holiday weekends.
Speed does contribute to accidents but it is not the only contributing factor. The lower tolerance at holiday weekends doesn’t just perusade drivers to reduce speed, it increases their concentration and that makes driving safer.
So does looking out for police because it keeps drivers’ attention on the road.
Although in spite of the warning that more police would be patrolling roads this weekend we drove from home to Wanaka on Friday, Wanaka to Arrowtown and back to Wanaka on Sunday and saw only one marked car.
But coming home yesterday we passed three in less than a kilometre – two in Otematata, a very small township in the Waitaki Valley, and one about 100 metres past it.