Do you want the good new or the bad news first? I suppose it’s always better to start with the bad then end with the good so here goes. If you haven’t heard already, New Zealand Police will be stricter on the 4km/h speed tolerance of the legal limit. Together with the lower alcohol limit for drivers over 20, both will take effect from December 1 while the zero-speed tolerance will run until January 31. What that means is any motorists caught even a fraction over 100km/h can be expected to be pulled over, fined, and giving a good smacking.
By no means do we condone breaking the law in any shape of form whatsoever but there are a few niggles about the zero speeding tolerance. This was trialled last year and over 200,000 fines were distributed in the same no-tolerance period. That was five times more than the year prior and brought with it a total of $6 million in revenue. Not a bad pay day at all. That said it did reduce serious injury crashes by 21, and 11 less fatal crashes on the roads. Still, it seems to have more financial benefits than anything else.
It may be skeptical to presume the point of a zero tolerance speed limit is purely to pump up the bank account of the nation’s government as driving slower, I mean at the correct speed limit, means those partaking in the traditional Kiwi road trip will be able to take in all beautiful views New Zealand has to offer. Unless of course you’re in one of the many cars that don’t have accurate speedometer readings. This is a problem faced by many and most don’t even know about it.
Some cars, like my Alfa 156 for example, will tell you it’s doing 100km/h but in reality it’s only around 94km/h. That’s no problem as it means Officer Policeman won’t pull it over. Unfortunately it’s not blessed with cruise control so the slightest twitch of my right foot could mean disaster. Cruise control, however, isn’t necessarily a good thing as some cars will show 100km/h on the speedo but in reality they’re doing slightly more than that. Which would’ve been fine if the usual 4km/h tolerance was in place but in the summer it could mean the weather won’t be the only fine thing you’ll get.
Stationery speeding cameras will still have the 4km/h leeway, which is somewhat fair. Perhaps the issue in 2014 isn’t whether police should have a zero speeding tolerance or not but rather New Zealand should have a higher speed limit. Most sane people tend to agree as the average car age in New Zealand continues to decline, meaning there are more newer model cars on our roads, that cars built in this century are capable of safely travelling at higher speeds. Of course that doesn’t mean drivers today are equally capable.
In an utopian world a zero-tolerance speed limit would mean zero crashes, zero deaths, and zero damage to the environment but that’s not always the case. In theory it’s a good idea but in reality it’d just mean less money in the pockets of everyone who drives on the open road. Is that what we want for our nation? Sad, empty Christmases because mum and/or dad have to pay speeding fines. I’d hope not. Rather than target speeding, the police should crackdown on bad drivers. As Jeremy Clarkson once said “speed has never killed anyone, suddenly becoming stationary… That’s what gets you”.
Now for the good news. International oil prices have dropped by 7 percent for some magical reason. Something about production levels remaining the same. Whatever, let’s not question why it’s dropped and question when we’ll see the difference at the pumps. Even more good news is the reduction of vehicle license costs from July next year. According to the AA expect to save between $42 to $132 a year for a petrol car and even more for a car running on diesel. So if your car’s rego is about to expire, renew it up until July next year and renew for less then.
Cheaper rego and fuel but a zero tolerance on speed? It’s almost as if they’re encouraging us to go out driving but then want to fine us for enjoying ourselves. In all seriousness, what’s the point of having a car in a country with roads as spectacular as New Zealand’s and not enjoying it. Stay safe and drive considering others too these holidays. Actually, scratch that. Stay safe and drive considering others all the time. That way we might not have to endure another summer of zero tolerance again. To be on the safe side though, be sure to put a radar dector on your Christmas list this year.