Wellington’s Ngauranga Gorge speed camera reclaims title as NZ’s top ticketer
The speed camera in Wellington’s Ngauranga Gorge is once again the nation’s top ticketer.
In the battle for speed camera supremacy, Wellington’s Ngauranga Gorge camera reigns supreme when it comes to ticketing drivers, earning the Government almost $2.4 million in the process.
A previous top-performer, the camera on Whitford Brown Ave in Porirua, slid down the rankings to fifth during a year when fixed and mobile speed cameras issued 573,971 tickets nationwide and pumped more than $38m into the Government’s coffers.
Police have, under the Official Information Act, released details of the country’s top 20 speed cameras – both in terms of tickets issued and money generated during the financial year to July.
On both counts the Ngauranga Gorge’s fixed camera, which keeps watch over State Highway 1 in and out of Wellington, swept to a convincing win with a tally of 27,232 tickets issued totalling $2,387,700.
Cameras across the Wellington region were well represented in the top 20, occupying six spots including two cameras on the main road in and out of the Lower Hutt suburb of Wainuiomata.
One of those Wainuiomata cameras has a reputation for being, arguably, the most hated speed camera in the country having been shot twice, beaten and sawn off.
Auckland speed cameras took nine spots, including seven of the top 10. One of those cameras, on Ngapipi Rd, came in sixth, racking up 9763 tickets worth $694,220, despite only going live in February, seven months into the financial year.
Speed cameras in Waikato, Tasman and Rangitikei also made the top 20 list.
Road safety campaigner Clive Matthew-Wilson, editor of The Dog and Lemon Guide, said speed cameras only served to undermine faith in police, who looked like revenue-gatherers.
“If you ask the average voter the major cause of road deaths they’d probably say, ‘illegal speeding’. In fact, the reverse is true. About 80 per cent of the road toll occurs below, not above, the speed limit,” he said.
“Of the 20 per cent of accidents that occur above the speed limit, almost all are caused by either yobbos, impaired drivers or outlaw motorcyclists.”
Ticketing drivers who had drifted slightly over the speed limit had been a “dismal” failure, he said.
“Police are issuing millions of tickets and the road toll has sky-rocketed – quite obviously, something is wrong here.”
The number of serious crashes in the Ngauranga Gorge had reduced in recent times, that was down to the installation of a median barrier, not the speed camera, Wilson said.
Road policing national operations manager Peter McKennie rejected the revenue gathering claim, saying police simply wanted to make sure people got to their destination safely. Most drivers understood this, he said.
McKennie agreed the Ngauranga Gorge median barrier could take some credit for reducing the seriousness of crashes in the gorge. But the camera had also reduced the number of crashes, which cause major traffic problems for the capital.
The gorge camera’s rise to the top of the list – a position it has regularly held in the past – was partly because an upgrade meant it could now also catch uphill speeders, which were surprisingly numerous, McKennie said.
While the gorge was home to the busiest camera, the percentage of speeding drivers passing through there was proportionally low due to the high traffic volume. Only three out of every 1000 vehicles going past got ticketed.
By comparison, 11 out of every hundred vehicles that passed through the mobile speed camera site on Harewood Rd in Christchurch – the 19th most-ticketed site – got pinged.
The South Island’s low placing on the rankings could be largely explained by the fact that it was only now getting second generation fixed cameras, meaning it had been relying on mobile cameras that moved around and generated less tickets in individual spots.
New speed cameras to scuttle boatie speedsters
Harbourmaster Luke Grogan and his crew are using the latest hand-held and fixed speed camera technology to catch speedster boaties this summer.
Marlborough speedsters can expect to be pinged on the water in the same way they are on land this summer.
Fixed and hand-held cameras are to be rolled out at speeding hot spots in the Marlborough Sounds in the coming months.
Marlborough harbourmaster Luke Grogan said his team would be targeting the high risk areas already marked with yellow 5-knot marker buoys.
“We’ll be taking a rigid enforcement approach in those areas with fixed and hand-held cameras, as well as enforcing the harbour bylaws generally.”
The myriad of waterways in the Sounds was difficult to police where boatie speedsters were concerned, Grogan said.
“The 5-knot rule in general applies to speeds within 200 metres of shore. It can be hard to apply across the whole area with geography like the Sounds.”
The new speed camera technology would complement what they were already doing, he said.
“We’ll be identifying high risk areas and taking a stronger approach with vessels exceeding the speed limit in those areas to get them under control.”
“That way we’ll get more bang for our buck in terms of education and make the Sounds safer for everyone,” Grogan said.
“We’ve got kayaks, boats of all sizes, kids sailing – we’ll be making the rules clear with a rigid enforcement approach.”
Grogan said new led-light speed warning signs “like the ones you see on the road” would be in place near Shelley Beach to show boaties what speeds they were doing around Picton Marina.
“We’re at the development stage with this at present, so we’re hiring the gear until we see how it works and how we can fine tune it.”
The speed display sign also had technology that could monitor speeds and photograph boats, Grogan said.
“We’re confident the technology will give us what we need to use as evidence for a prosecution or to support and uphold an infringement notice.”
Speed limits can affect road safety: study
Strictly enforced speed limits could have a detrimental impact on road safety, new research has found, with the WA road safety commissioner questioning the validity of the study.
Researchers from The University of Western Australia used a driving simulator to test if a driver’s mental and visual abilities were affected by lowering thresholds for speed enforcement.
The study involved 84 young adults who drove under conditions where they could be fined for travelling one, six or 11 kilometres over a 50km/h speed limit.
A peripheral detection task was used to measure their mental and visual workload, and they also filled out a questionnaire expressing how difficult or demanding they found the experience of driving under different enforcement conditions.
Vanessa Bowden from the School of Psychology says the overall finding was that stricter speed enforcement may impair a driver’s ability to detect hazards, particularly on the side of the road, because they dedicate more attention to monitoring their speed.
“What we’re concerned about is if you take it too far, getting too strict with it, you’re going to start losing some of those benefits that you’re getting and possibly replace them with problems,” Dr Bowden said.
Past studies have found that people have a limited mental and visual ability while driving, which is affected when divided between tasks.
WA road safety commissioner Kim Papalia said enforcement was a critical part of the state strategy and he was confronted by the research.
“I was extraordinarily disappointed when I read the report…. It is a very narrow cohort, they have drawn conclusions that impact on statewide issues and they have looked at one narrow factor, which is enforcement,” he told 6PR radio.
On average, around 60 people are killed on WA roads each year in speed-related crashes, while a further 375 people suffer serious and life-changing injuries.
In WA, all money collected from speed infringements goes to the road trauma trust account, which is set aside for road safety programs.
Top speed traps net $25 million in fines
Top speed traps net $25 million in fines
Auckland has 12 of the top 20 speed cameras.
New Zealand’s top 20 speed traps have been revealed.
Two fixed speed cameras on the Wellington roading network – one in Porirua and the other on Ngauranga Gorge – both generated fines in excess of $1 million in the first nine months of last year.
More than 15,000 tickets were generated from the Porirua camera, totalling $1.13m in fines. The Ngauranga Gorge camera nabbed 14,200 speedsters, with total fines of $1.07m.
Twelve of the top 20 speed cameras are in the Auckland region. A camera on Great South Rd doled out more than 10,000 tickets and another on the Northwestern Motorway, between the Patiki footbridge and the Waterview Interchange, snapped 8450 motorists.
Police issued more than 390,000 speed camera tickets, totalling $25 million in fines, until September 13 – a drop of 98,760 tickets from the same period last year.
National road policing manager Superintendent Steve Greally said the drop in speed camera tickets was “very encouraging”, as it showed road safety was improving.
But speed was just one of the potential killers on the nation’s roads, he said.
“It’s not only speed that contributes to the road toll, it’s a variety of things like drugs, alcohol and cellphones,” he said.
The drop in issued tickets also led to a $5.9m drop in revenue.
The figures – released to the Herald on Sunday under the Official Information Act – do not include motorists who were caught driving in excess of 50km/h over the speed limit. Those offences are dealt with via the court system.
All fixed speed camera sites have been assessed as being at high risk of speed-related crashes.
Greally said the success of the cameras wasn’t judged on fines generated, but on making the roads safer.
“A reduction in infringements is a great thing. It’s never, ever, about the money,” he said.
“We’re the ones who have to inform families that loved ones are dead. I’ve never met a cop who enjoys that.”
Despite the drop in speed camera tickets, more people are dying on the roads.
The provisional road toll for 2015 is 321, the highest since 2010.
The holiday road toll stands at eight. Eleven people died during last year’s Christmas-New Year break.
Traffic safety campaigner and editor of car review website dogandlemon.com Clive Matthew-Wilson said the speed camera figures showed the risk of a fine wasn’t deterring dangerous driving.
He wanted police to rethink road safety measures.
“This huge number of tickets suggest the cameras are a failure,” he said.
“The police have a deliberate policy of positioning cameras without warning.
“These cameras tend to catch motorists who are often simply travelling at the same speed as the motorists around them, without intentionally breaking the law,” he said.
“These same motorists would have probably slowed down anyway if they had been warned first, so nothing has been gained.”