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John MacDonald: I am not convinced extra speed cameras will make roads safer

John MacDonald,
Publish Date
Mon, 19 Feb 2024, 1:07PM
Photo / NZ Herald
Photo / NZ Herald

John MacDonald: I am not convinced extra speed cameras will make roads safer

John MacDonald,
Publish Date
Mon, 19 Feb 2024, 1:07PM

Yesterday, I drove from Christchurch to Picton, and back again.

And I don’t think any of these extra speed cameras that NZTA wants to bring-in would have made the journey any safer.

I took a couple of the kids up to the Inter-islander. They’ve headed back to university in Wellington and, if they’d flown, they would have had to charter their own plane.

Not that I was complaining. Because I love that drive up the east coast.

What I didn’t love, though, was some of the driving I saw. And, you’ll know this as much as me, but it is just luck isn’t it that we don’t have more accidents and more people getting injured and killed on our roads?

And this is why NZTA wants to stick a truckload more speed cameras around the place.

It’s taking the job over from the Police and plans a massive increase in camera numbers and fones.

It wants to have more than five-times the number of cameras we have at the moment and reckons it could triple the number of tickets given out for speeding. That would take us up to 3 million tickets.

And it’s predicting it would save as many as 2,400 lives over 20 years.

Although, just to note, all these cameras won’t start popping up overnight. Whether they get up to the full 800 is dependent on the Government giving the green light for more funding.

Now I’m not going to poo-poo any lives being saved. Who would? But I actually don’t think speed cameras are going to do anything to stop the things that cause crashes.

Speed cameras don’t stop people crossing the centre line. Speed cameras don’t make people think twice about dodgy overtaking. Speed cameras don’t stop people tailgating.

Speed cameras don’t stop people treating driving as if it’s something they can do while they do something else.

All things I saw on my drive up to Picton and back yesterday.

I saw a motorcyclist who, obviously, had some sort of infra-red periscope attached to his helmet. Because he was able to tell whether-or-not there was traffic coming towards him on a blind corner.

There was a guy tailgating me just north of Kaikoura, driving with one hand on the wheel - the other one hanging out the window. And, when he did overtake me, he still only needed one hand on the wheel. And he would have been doing well over 100kph.

Not to mention the muppets in the passing lanes who thought they could gun it and try to get past just one more car at the end of the passing lanes, where the road merges back into a single lane.

NZTA could have a speed camera every 200 metres on every road and it still wouldn’t stop those idiots from doing that kind of nutbar stuff when they’re driving.

And let’s face it, if we did ever get to the point of dishing out 3 million tickets a year, that would be a fair chunk of people not being bothered by the presence of speed cameras.

Which is my argument, exactly.

Some people will not change their driving behaviour for anything. Not even a speeding ticket.

Because, yes, there’s a financial penalty. But you don’t get any demerit points when you get a ticket where a speed camera’s used. That would be the only way to get speed cameras to change driver behaviour.

Because, if there was a chance of accumulating enough demerits to stop you driving, then you’d have more to worry about than just paying a fine, wouldn’t you?

But we don’t. And that’s why I don’t think speed cameras are the answer to stopping the stupid stupid behaviour we see on our roads, day-in day-out

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