Police claiming a win over the road toll - seriously?

I was amused to see the NZ Police Commissioner claiming "Prevention Approach Pays" as a win.

Whilst I actually give the Police their dues in a general sense - they seem to have done fairly well in terms of the 'usual headaches' that the holiday season would present - any attempt to suggest that the reduced speed tolerance is in any way responsible for significant reductions in road deaths during the holiday period, is something I would object to strenuously.

The Commissioner is relatively brief in his statement regarding the road toll:

Many of you will be as saddened as I was by the number of people killed on our roads during the official holiday period. The 12 deaths were four fewer than last year, but that still means 12 victims and a dozen grieving families too many.

The official holiday period ended last Tuesday, but many thousands of people are still away on leave, and I know our staff will continue working hard to keep people safe on our roads.

But it doesn't take much looking to find the table of holiday road tolls over the last several years.

What is obvious:

  • In the last 5 years, the number of road deaths in this last holiday season runs 3rd-equal with 2010-11
  • 2011-12 had the most, with 19 deaths
  • 2014-15 had the next most, with 16 deaths
  • 2010-11 had one more accident for the same number of deaths. I'm not sure that matters.

After last years increase in road deaths despite the same reduced-tolerance enforcement, there were plenty of comments about it in the press as well as online.

I've been travelling in a work vehicle a few times during the break and i've been very, very grateful for Cruise Control. My daily driver doesn't have this feature, and I am, consequentially, spending more time focused on an arbitrary line in the sand, than on driving more safely by improving my situational awareness (i.e. watching what's going on outside the vehicle, and not the speedo!) I've also seen (though this may be subjective) a greater number of vehicles travelling slowly - too slowly - and creating frustration and unnecessary delay. (This in addition to the usual collection of idiots driving too aggressively, using their phones while driving, etc... which is true regardless of speed enforcement).

Stuff allowed the publication of an article quite scathing on this, but the link no longer works which is suspect in itself. (It's from 'Stuff Nation' so I gather that means it was contributed by a member of the public, and not a journalist). But I do know from the existance of, say, this Facebook group that i'm not the only one who feels this way. And then there's this overly slow driver who was not issued an infringement. As an example.

I maintain that the best way to reduce the road toll is to improve driver education. Forcing otherwise generally good drivers to spend a disproportionate amount of time policing their speed more tightly, is counter productive - yes, slower speeds will result in less injuries and deaths (plain ol' physics in action), but this is not addressing the root cause.

(Unfortunately, and also from 'Stuff Nation', there are examples of the opposite thought. My view on that is that driving to the conditions is always priority number one, and plenty of roads happily support 5km/h over the limit without being unsafe. Drivers travelling at a few kms under the limit - thus potentially dragging everyone else's speed down by 10-20% - create more problems than they solve, IMHO.)