Speeding campaigns damage confidence in police, says safety campaigner

Extreme police anti-speeding campaigns alienate drivers and damage public confidence in the police, says the car review website dogandlemon.com.

Editor Clive Matthew-Wilson, who is an active road safety campaigner, says many drivers now believe that anti-speeding campaigns are simply a form of revenue-gathering.

“Most motorists totally support the police when the police target reckless driving, that is, driving in a way that is too fast for the conditions and which places innocent people at immediate risk.”

“However, simply dumping a speed camera on a large, open road, without first warning motorists, creates the impression that the police are simply using any excuse to gather revenue by issuing tickets.”

“The police believe that if they can make ordinary drivers scared to speed anywhere, anytime, the road toll will drop. This is, sadly, nonsense, because the drivers who cause most speed-related accidents tend to ignore both road safety messages and speeding tickets. They are almost all either blotto, or motorcyclists or young working-class males who live on the edge of the law. The government’s own studies show this.”

Matthew-Wilson points to what he terms “a tragically typical speed-based fatality”.

Earlier this year, Cameron Presland, 20, killed his girlfriend Danielle Kiriau, 17, and her brother Shannon, 22, while driving at 180km/h. The pair were passengers in Presland’s unwarranted, unregistered, modified vehicle, which spun out of control on Dunedin's southern motorway and crashed into a pole and tree.

Matthew-Wilson asks: “Perhaps the police could explain how speed cameras would have prevented this accident?”

“The police heavily enforce speeding limits because they tend to confuse speed with recklessness. The two aren’t the same thing at all. You can drive recklessly at 50km/h and you can drive safely at 110km/h. It’s how you drive, what you drive and where you drive that matters.”

“In fact, most accidents don't involve illegal speeds at all, about 80% of fatalities occur at speeds below the legal limit.”

"In Australia's Northern Territory, the police no longer enforce speed limits at all on one highway. Instead, they target reckless driving. During the years when the police blindly enforced speed limits, as they do in New Zealand, the Northern Territory road toll actually increased."

“I’m not saying speed limits shouldn’t be enforced; I’m saying that police should refocus on high risk drivers, not ordinary people who’ve innocently drifted over the speed limit in conditions where there’s actually not much risk.”