Why would police suddenly come out with a policy of zero tolerance on speeding a few weeks before the election?
Could it be part of a plot to unseat the government?
Might it have come from something like this?
Act 1, Scene 1: A meeting room at Police HQ.
Officer 1: The weekend’s protest wasn’t a good look for us. How can we uphold the law when we’re told they’re breaking the law but we’re to educate rather than prosecute?
Officer 2: What else could our people on the beat do? They couldn’t do anything about the Black Lives Matter marches when the whole country was in lock down, so how could they do anything about this one?
Officer 3: Yeah well, there’s a pattern isn’t there? The Iwi road blocks that weren’t authorised but were sort of okayed, the gang tangi that broke the lockdown rules but we couldn’t touch them, even when they blocked the intersections. It all makes us look ineffective and undermines our authority.
Officer 1: What could we do? We had our orders. Not a good look though.
Officer 2: It’s not going to get any better if the polls are right and Labour win outright or close to it.
Officer 3: It’d be worse.
Officer 4: But would the other lot be any better?
Officer 2: Well yeah, think about it, who was the best Police Minister we’ve had in recent times?
Office 1: Don’t have to think about it. Judith Collins, she valued and supported us.
Officer 2: Got it in one. And if she was Prime Minister, don’t ya think she’d keep doing that?
Officer 3: Yeah, of course. But we’ve only got four votes and look at the polls.
Officer 1: There’s only one poll that counts.
Officer 4: Now you’re sounding like a politician.
Officer 1: And thinking like one, how about if we gave the polls a nudge?
Officer 3: How could we do that?
Officer 1: Policy. That’s what the pollies do when they want some attention. Release some policy.
Officer 2: But we’re not politicians and we’re supposed to be non-partisan. How can we release election policy?
Officer 1: I’m not talking election policy, I’m talking our own policy. What about changing the speed tolerance from 10 Ks to 0. One K over the limit and we stop ’em and ticket ’em.
Officer 3: That won’t be popular.
Officer 4: It’ll be very unpopular. Why do it? Will it make the roads safer?
Officer 1: Of course not. I can already hear that Clive Matthew Wilson road safety bloke say: this zero tolerance approach would pointlessly alienate ordinary motorists without solving the real problem. “The current police anti-speeding campaign will never lower the road toll, because it’s targeting the average motorist rather than the high-risk groups. “That’s like trying to stop bank robberies by targeting shoplifting.”
Officer 4: And he’d be right, wouldn’t he? It will get right up the noses of the ordinary driver who creeps a few kilometres over the limit going down a hill or on one of those long, straight stretches where there’s no other cars except one of ours hidden under a tree.
Officer 3: What about overtaking? No passing lane would be long enough to let anyone pass the slightly slower drivers at 100 k. We start ticketing people going a wee bit faster when they’re passing and they’re going to lecturing us about time exposed to danger, and what’s safer: crawling past a truck on the wrong side of the road or zipping past and getting back to the right side, which is of course the left, as soon as possible?
Officer 2: There will be an uproar.
Officer 1: That’s right, and who will they blame?
Officer 2: Us?
Officer 1: Well yes, but also the government. The public’ll be furious and it won’t just be individuals. It won’t take long for the Taxpayers’ Union to call it a cash grab. I can see the media release already :
Did you see the news break yesterday that the Police are abolishing their 10km/h speed tolerance nationwide?
That means that from today Police will be issuing fines for going as little as 101km/h on the open road – even when passing another vehicle!
This Government has put up fuel taxes every year, and introduced the Auckland Regional Fuel Tax. Now they’re using the Police as tax collectors.
Road safety advocates have labelled the move as “petty, vindictive and ineffective”. Deliberate speeding is one thing. But unintentional speeding where it’s a few kms over, such as when a driver is not fixated on the speedo, should not be fined. Crashes caused by speeding are seldom due to a driver doing one or two kms over the limit.
This new policy that will see thousands of New Zealanders fined for going only one or two kms over the posted limit – even while passing another vehicle. . .
Officer 4: Ya know I think it might just about work.
Officer 1: It will and we’ve no time to waste. At least one polling company will be taking the political pulse of the nation as we speak.
Officer 2: It won’t just be the government that takes a hit. We’re going to be pretty unpopular while it’s going on.
Officer 1: We all have to make sacrifices at times, and a wee bit of temporary unpopularity is a small price to pay for a government that supports the police and helps us do our work.
This is all too fanciful, but can anyone think of a better explanation for a policy that will be so very unpopular and do absolutely nothing for road safety?