NZ Police issue increased amount of speeding fines throughout lockdown
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Police officers issued more speeding fines during the nationwide lockdown than they did during the same period a year before.
During lockdown, traffic congestion in major cities dropped by up to 80 per cent, and total traffic was estimated to be down by almost half.
Police say the empty roads led some drivers to think speeding was okay, hence the big increase in fines issued.
In April, during alert levels 4 and 3, 21,077 speeding fines were issued to motorists by officers - up almost 1000 on April 2019.
In May, when the alert level dropped to 2, 33,320 speeding tickets were issued by officers, more than 13,000 more than the previous year.
It was the highest number of speeding tickets issued by officers in the month of May in at least 12 years.
Acting Superintendent Gini Welch, the national road policing manager, said there was a big focus on watching the speed of drivers.
"Police were very visible on the roads throughout the alert levels, ensuring our communities were kept safe and educated on the alert level restrictions, and to prevent risky driving behaviours," Welch said
"Police at the time reminded motorists to continue to obey the road rules and drive safely when travelling for essential reasons, and particularly to monitor their speed.
"Despite this, unfortunately the additional room on our roads led some drivers to believe it was okay to speed, leading to the increase in the issuing of speed notices."
The belief that speeding was okay may have stretched to police officers themselves.
The number of police vehicles caught speeding by cameras increased by 26 per cent this April and 10 per cent in May, compared with a year earlier.
The speeding offences in April and May cost drivers just over $6.5 million, and the $3.9m in fines issued in May was the most in any month since January 2009.
By contrast, mobile speed camera vans and static cameras issued far fewer tickets during lockdown compared with a year earlier.
Mobile camera issued tickets dropped by 76 percent in April and 17 per cent in May, while static camera issued tickets dropped by 62 per cent in April and 29 per cent in May.
Tickets for running red lights, not wearing seatbelts and driving drunk or drugged were all down significantly.
Fines for mobile phone use were down in April, but surged in May with 3364 tickets issued, up more than 20 per cent on a year earlier.
Police pursuits also increased during lockdown, up 38 per cent in April as 491 drivers fled police.
With fewer people on the road and police cracking down on speeding, road deaths dropped to nine in April, down from 45 in April 2019.