Get a mop and wipe it up!

Intolerable NZ Police Speed Tolerance

, posted: 16-Mar-2012 22:40

Regarding speeding tickets at 55 km/h:

The NZ Police will suffer from a severe loss of respect with this policy. Traffic in Auckland generally travels near 60 km/h in 50 km/h zones.

A better approach, if the Police are going to be so pedantic, is to raise the speed limits by 10 km/h, everywhere, and impose a zero tolerance. This would result in (nearly) all of us suddenly becoming law-abiding citizens, and puts the onus on the motorist to know if their speedometer reads high or low.

It might also reduce road rage by encouraging some of the drivers who favour 40 km/h to perhaps manage 50 km/h?  

The current policy evokes disrespect: "the law is an ass".


Other related posts:
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Comment by sen8or, on 17-Mar-2012 08:09

Sorry, I have to disagree with you.

The limit is the limit, regardless of what limit you put up, people (kiwis in particular) will always expect a bit of tolerance. This can be not only for the "it was only a little bit over" attitude, but also for things like in-accurate speedos, terrain (downhill), wind etc

NZers in general simply do not like being told they have to do things by a certain set of rules, the expectation is that rules can be broken "a little bit" and it is ok. Remember the uproar when Jetstar enforced its 30min checkin time? But now, its well known and the majority obey.

The problem with tolerances is when they start to become stretched themselves. 10% of a speed limit is a fairly generous tolerance at 100km/hr, just not at 50, but a 20% tolerance at 50 (allowing 60) would be too much (for many) at 100 (allowing 120).

If they draw a line in the sand, ARE CONSISTENT, and its well publicised (like it was on or near public holidays), then there really isnt any room to gripe if you choose to break the law

Author's note by dmw, on 17-Mar-2012 09:58

You contradict yourself, sen8or. 

You say we expect a bit of tolerance, and then give the example of Jetstar enforcing its checkin time and people getting used to it.

Then you bring up 10%. No one is talking about 10%. Only the previous convention of allowing a 10 km/h tolerance on any speed limit.

The problem is not the tolerances. The problem is the speed limits themselves. 

The Police think that they are too high.       

The Police think that speed kills.

It does not. Deceleration does. (The human body has survived travel at 40,000 km/h!)

The problem is that if speed limits are set too low, compared to what "normal people" think is reasonable, normal people revolt.

Comment by gzt, on 17-Mar-2012 10:49

The article you link to has a guy complaining about being cameraed at 55 in "a quiet residential street". There is a road near me where many  residents with kids contacted the police and asked them to enforce the limit. The cops had a bit of blitz initially and now have a car there maybe every six months or so as a reminder. I think that is appropriate.

A while back I got pinged and siren-ed by a hidden cop at 70 on a four lane wide road in a light industrial area on a sunday afternoon. Perfectly understandable, but no reason for that one except a good spot for one guy to meet quota/targets.

A lot of areas have been rezoned with 60 signs where appropriate. That process has been going on for a while and more could be added.

Consumer has article on speedometer accuracy. They are always set to read over the current speed and never under the current speed. I believe the WOF standards specify reading up to 15% higher but lower is not allowed at all.

Comment by KrazyKid, on 17-Mar-2012 11:07

I'll Bite. The faster you go the less reaction time you have to hit the brakes or serve safely, and the longer distance takes to stop.

I have no problem with the hypothsis that the slower you go the accidents and less injury cuased in the accidents that do occur.

If you accept that then it is just a matter of degree. One extreme is if no-one move then 100% save. They other is feree for all and significant number of accidents.

The police are saying, lets move the average speed down a bit and head towards a lower accident number. The 'normal person' will accept this change in a year in so so because it is a small change, and it will be the ne normal. If you want an  example of this happening look a Victoria, Australia - 6 years ago they started to enfore a 3km tolorence. Large number of complaints at the time. Now mostly accepted.

Comment by codyc1515, on 17-Mar-2012 13:40

Already this year we have had more fatal road crashes than last year. Decreasing the speed limit in a desperate attempt to collect more revenue is not changing anything at all. In fact, you could almost draw the conclusion that the introduction of it has caused _more_ accidents.

Comment by k1w33d, on 17-Mar-2012 16:28

I believe that the tolerance level should be 10% of the posted speed limit rather than a set speed across the board. Trying to keep the car under 104kph on the open road requires too much attention on the speedo instead of the road where your attention should be.
I think the speed limits should be kept as they are but maybe a review could be done in areas where motorists do 60kph instead of 50kph. Also the police and local councils should refocus their efforts onto slowing down motorists on blackspots rather than the police setting up in areas where people speed but with low accident rates.

Author's note by dmw, on 17-Mar-2012 18:51


A 4-lane road in a light industrial area should arguably have a higher speed limit than a residential street with many children. I'd have no problems with the former being raised to 60 or 70 km/h, and the latter being lowered to 40 km/h. 

Get the speed limits "right" and then there is less of a problem with enforcement. Or with drivers concentrating so much on keeping their speed under some pathetically slow "limit", that they are failing to watch for other, more important, hazards.

Comment by Shane Ponting, on 17-Mar-2012 19:16

What is the point of a speed limit? Contrary to popular ignorant belief, it is not the point at which driving risk suddenly skyrockets.

There is only one way in which a speed limit can function correctly, and that is to promote adherence to the 85th percentile - which is determined by *the motorist*.

Most drivers instinctively know how fast is appropriate, and will be inclined towards that speed. That speed is the 85th percentile speed or the speed that 85% of drivers are doing on a given stretch of road.

A speed limit that is posted too low will see an 85th percentile speed above the posted limit, and in this situation the motorist is being *punished* (through enforcement activities) for driving safely. A speed limit that is posted too high will see the 85th percentile below the speed limit, because you can put as big a number as you like on the sign but only the brain dead will actually try to go that fast (in blind ignorance of the conditions).

In both directions (speed limit too low or too high), the speed distribution is incredibly wide and undermines the whole point of a speed limit. By promoting the 85th percentile, a proper speed limit will help to "squeeze" the distribution curve so a greater percentage of road users are traveling at the *same* speed which is the safest outcome irrespective of what that speed actually is.

Furthermore, the crash risk curve is not linear either side of the 85th perentile - and driving in excess of the 85th percentile by 10KM/H is safer than traveling 10KM/H below it.

In short, fining motorists for exceeding a posted limit by a relatively small amount has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with road safety and everything to do with revenue gathering.

Your average Joe is barely devoting half of his attention to the task of driving, and of that half he's spending an awful lot on watching the speedometer - distracted much? I think so.

Comment by Niel, on 18-Mar-2012 17:14

In South Africa the main speed limits for well over 20 years have been 60 and 120, some narrower open roads 100 (but still with a shoulder that you don't get here). There is no WOF, the only inspection you get is a really tough one at change of ownership where a drop of oil on the sump is a fail. You can sit in the back of a UTE, and the joke is you know a taxi (Toyota Hi-Ace, not what we know as taxis) is full when there is someone sitting on the right of the driver. Accidents involving taxis and buses have great fatalities, often more baggage on top than people inside. In the last 5 to 8 years there has been a crackdown on speeding, I used to average 140 and my old 1.3L Mazda UTE would do 160 if it had to, but many people would average 160 and do 180 when in a hurry. Despite all this, the percentage road death toll in South Africa is the same as in New Zealand. Speed does not kill, stupidity does. I fully support speed limits, but make it sensible and provide roads that can handle the conditions.

Some AU territories are considering a 1km/h tolerance. If your car has the specified size tyres then the speedo will over read by 5% to 7%, so no issue. It is when you fit a non-specified tyre that you can have a problem.

However, from a "news in brief" in our local new paper last week it said a study showed an increase in accidents because people watch their speedo more than the road (and also trusts what the GPS says, turning into no entry roads).

And digressing a bit, it is great regarding the give-way rule change but when are they going to extend the area in the middle of the road where cars need to wait to turn right, especially where there are 2 offset side roads and only 1 car can wait in the middle before blocking the road?

The part of your brain that deals with consequences does not fully develop until you reach 25 years, which is why your ideal soldier is around 18 years old. You feel immortal. So the 85th percentile does not work for setting speed limits.

Comment by Athlonite, on 18-Mar-2012 18:40

You do realize you can also receive an Ticket for going to slow especially if your holding up the flow of traffic..... after saying that I've only ever had one speeding ticket for 61Kmh in an 50k zone and I thought that was a fair cop for 28yrs of licensed driving

my point is if everyone drove of the cliff would you be one of the 85% that followed or would you be in th 15% that turned around and went home alive

the Law is the Law if you don't like it get off the road and take a bus or train

Comment by Shane Ponting, on 18-Mar-2012 21:08

"So the 85th percentile does not work for setting speed limits. "

Got evidence to back that up apart from your 15th percentile rubbish?

Didn't think so.....

Author's note by dmw, on 18-Mar-2012 21:18

Athlonite said: the Law is the Law if you don't like it get off the road and take a bus or train   

The law is what the people whom we elect to parliament make it to be.

Comment by riahon, on 19-Mar-2012 06:18

@codyc1515 - yeah could draw that conclusion - if you are a dumba$$

Author's note by dmw, on 19-Mar-2012 07:32

@riahon Such perceptive (!) comments as yours do not add anything to the debate. In fact, resorting to insults indicates laziness, or a lack of persuasive argument/s to refute an alternative viewpoint.

The cause and effect between road safety "improvements" and statistics can be difficult to prove.

Comment by Tabuti, on 19-Mar-2012 14:05

Author said - The Police think that speed kills.

It does not. Deceleration does. (The human body has survived travel at 40,000 km/h!)

Can the human body survive a crash @ 40,000km/h!! ?

I would rather crash @ 50 than 60.
I would rather not break the law and get a ticket so I stay under the accepted tolerance.
Its not hard...

Author said - The problem is that if speed limits are set too low, compared to what "normal people" think is reasonable, normal people revolt.

I'm a normal person, do i think the limit could be higher? sure. Will i revolt if they don't raise it? nope

Just accept it & move on, its not the end of the world

Comment by Tabuti, on 19-Mar-2012 14:16

Author said - The Police think that speed kills.

It does not. Deceleration does. (The human body has survived travel at 40,000 km/h!)

Can the human body survive a crash @ 40,000km/h!! ?

I would rather crash @ 50 than 60.
I would rather not break the law and get a ticket so I stay under the accepted tolerance.
Its not hard...

Author said - The problem is that if speed limits are set too low, compared to what "normal people" think is reasonable, normal people revolt.

I'm a normal person, do i think the limit could be higher? sure. Will i revolt if they don't raise it? nope

Just accept it & move on, its not the end of the world

Comment by Just Johnoo, on 19-Mar-2012 18:52

How short folks memories are.
Once upon a time (way way back - 1980's) the open road Limit was 80kph, accident rates were high and the actual open road speed tended to be nearer 113kph than even 100Kph.
Tickets were affordable, avoidable (eyes on the road, slow down when cops present), very few drivers worried overly much about what their speedo indicated -except in general terms.
the speed limit was raised to 100kph! Accident rate went up! Also revenues went down. Average speeds wirily reduce to about 87kph.
Then to solve this nasty problem Police became more vigorous and imaginative in ticketing people for exceeding 100kph, but neglected to ticket the slow pokes. Accident rate went up again.
As an adjunct driver licensing got tougher. and increasing numbers were trained to watch heir speedo's rather than the road. So the accident rate climbed again.

Now we have a highish accident rate, arbitrary ever decreasing tolerances, half stalled traffic flow, random and almost senseless rule changes and the most overly cluttered roads (signs, white lines, kerbs, cheese graters, bumb strips, cats eyes, highly (i.e., blindingly) reflective signs, and the accident rate goes up, most likely because drivers no longer direct the bulk of their driving attention towards the traffic, pedestrians and intended direction, rather they are sign, speedo, GPS and mirror watching, worrying about hidden speed cameras, and unforgiving revenue collectors, or being frustrated by folks who are distracted by rules.
In my own experience accidents are more likely to occur at lower speeds than at high - at low speeds people focus less on the road than on distractions.

Imagine a skateboarder who required to read a rule book while ollieing, or hanging-10 in a busy mall -broken bones, bruises and black eyes would be on the up.
Better for Police to focus on those who can't drive in a straight line at any speed - drunks, drugged, and passenger (or cellphone, or child) distracted – if the goal is reduction in serious accidents.

Comment by KiwiNZ, on 20-Mar-2012 07:38

Tired of getting speed camera fines or being stopped by Police for speeding, simple answer....... SLOW DOWN.

Now is that hard?

Author's note by dmw, on 20-Mar-2012 07:48


No, actually I haven't had any form of speeding penalty for over 30 years. Nor do I have a radar detector.

I do sometimes drive a little old sports car.

I am allowed to disagree with the speed limits and how they are applied. And increasingly, the Police are doing themselves no favours by pinging people who are driving safely, and endangering no other road users, merely because of some bureaucratic and arbitrary number assigned to a given road.

Comment by KiwiNZ, on 20-Mar-2012 09:15

If someone is driving at 60Kmh in a 50Kmh area they are NOT driving safely. The difference between a Car v pedestrian impact at 50K and the same impact at 60K is a lot more damage.

I have as much sympathy for those getting speeding fines as I have for drink/drivers , that is, absolutely none.

Author's note by dmw, on 20-Mar-2012 09:52

You seem to think, KiwiNZ, that all designated 50 km/h roads are the same.

On some roads, such as suburban streets with cars parked on both sides and children playing, etc, I totally agree with you. In fact, 50 km/h would be unsafe in some circumstances.

But there are other suburban roads that are 4 lanes, even with a central reservation that are still 50 km/h, which can be quite safe at 60 km/h.

The thing is that, as a responsible driver, I should be able to judge my speed according to the conditions -- road, traffic, weather, potential hazards -- and not be pinged for exceeding an arbitrary number, when I am driving safely.

Thus I disagree with your blanket statement: If someone is driving at 60Kmh in a 50Kmh area they are NOT driving safely

Comment by JakobusVdL, on 26-Nov-2013 21:38

Roadsafety should be about much more than enforcing outdated speed limits, this is just more tired thinking from nzta. How about a bit more focus on education? how can something regarded as so dangerous as to require a massive and on going police effort be ok to do with a one time test and no further training or testing in a lifetime? And what about engineering? head on collisions are often reported when fatal accidents occur, if we can' t afford dual carrageway roads, how about putting rumble strips in the middle of the road, as well as at the edges?And if the police want to focus on some aspect of enforcement, how about focusing on a new area i.e 'following distance'? Following too closely is endemic on NZ roads, and one reason that head on accidents are prominant. Either passing involves trying to pass a line of cars rather than one at a time, and in the event of a collision, the tailgaters don't allow themselves space  or time to react,so they plough on in.My other hobby horse on this topic! Shouldn't the roads be there to move people and goods around the place  quickly, safely and efficently, so the economy benefits? how does slowing everyone down benefit that aim?

Comment by CeilingCat, on 3-Dec-2013 15:05

The telling argument is this: how accurate are tachometers allowed to be? As a scientist, I know that every device that I use to measure anything has a built in inaccuracy for which I need to allow when reporting results. I also know that reading an analogue scale also has a built in inaccuracy due to parallax (up to 5%). After-market wheels and tyres, tyrewear, wear in the running gear, tyre pressure, load, wear in the speedo cable and temperature all decrease the accuracy of your speedo. Legally it is allowed to be 10% out (that's the speedo itself, not the speed limit tolerance) and there is no current requirement to have it checked as part of the WOF process. Now, remember that all these errors are additive, so if you are clocked by a police car coming the other way, you have two sets of errors combined. That's a combined error of up to 20%. (Not including the inaccuracy of the radar gun). Our police are scientifically illiterate and naively legalistic in their approach to speed enforcement especially after their "if you know you're speedo's out, get it fixed" comment. We're policed by retards.

Comment by orion, on 26-Jun-2014 23:21

You see. I have a different solution. How about having different sets of speed limits. IE20km/h around schools40kms in suburban streets. I live in a place where I have to go through various sidestreets. I would never push for 50 in any of these side streets.55km/h for normal streets.70km/h for industrial zones80km/h for highways. This way the more unsafe highways can be classed as industrial zones.110km/h for the motorway.Some of you are complaining about the 110 motorway zone being changed. Well motorways are often straight roads with high visibility. The chance of a crash is fairly low on motorways. They are actually mostly caused by people not looking at the recommended turn speed sign or 2 different cars having a 20km/h difference in speed.Also, the tolerance is just right. If you think the tolerance should decrease, you are clearly missing some facts like the fact that most speed cameras in nz aren't even digital yet. 10% spedo allowance is different to the spedo tolerance. I got clocked doing 61 around a corner in a 1.5l mazda axela. I proved the government wrong by doing the turn with my foot down while recording the speedo. It was coming off a side street onto a busy main road. They waived it because they couldn't argue it. With my foot down, I could have only been doing about 55. (I know my speedo is about 2kms too high.Also, just adding this in, I think orange light timing should be increased to 7 seconds instead of 5. In some major intersections, its difficult to cross the other line in 5 seconds. If the government is really thinking safety over money, then this needs to happen. Most "red light running" is done due to hard decisions that need to be made by the driver according to conditions. This means they are generally no more than 2 seconds off. This gives the driver more time to cross the other line and might even decrease crashes caused by red light running.

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David White
New Zealand

Goon fan, .NET developer, contrarian seeker of truth