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Police to focus on red light runners

About time but why only really crack down for a month?

Police are launching a month-long blitz on red light runners on Auckland roads.

After an eight-week Auckland Transport “red means stop” warning campaign, police have begun cracking down on drivers who still haven’t got the message.

From Counties Manukau to the North Shore, they will be targeting drivers at some of the region’s most dangerous red light intersections.

“Intersections are among the most dangerous places on the New Zealand road network,” Counties Manukau district road policing manager Inspector Neil Fisher said yesterday.

“So we’ve got both overt and covert police actions taking place. This month it’s a massive focus for us and we’re putting extra resources into it.”

Auckland accounted for 35 of the country’s 100 most dangerous intersections for the 10 years to 2012, according to a list issued last week by the Government’s Transport Agency.

Mr Fisher said 46 per cent of fatal and serious injury crashes in urban areas around New Zealand in the past five years occurred at intersections.

“That’s compelling evidence to me that we’ve got to do some actions in this area. The thrust of this campaign is about making intersections safer.”

Red light running is clearly an issue and one that can be seen on a regular basis. Police say they enforce it on a regular basis but will be even more active this month. Of course raises the question what’s happening with red light cameras.

The police remain guarded about when they will introduce new red-light cameras, despite the Automobile Association’s hope that up to 20 will be rolled out around the country from late this year.

Associate Transport Minister Michael Woodhouse issued a “position paper” in July on how more cameras could be introduced, saying he expected to see them appearing at intersections from the end of this year.

But national road policing manager Superintendent Carey Griffiths was more circumspect last night, saying the police and the Transport Agency were considering options for “the placement of a very small number of red light cameras for evaluation, potentially by the end of this year. That work is still ongoing”.

Why are police just evaluating these again. The last trial was a success, get them rolled out already.

86 comments to Police to focus on red light runners

  • Sailor Boy

    Police should just have an officer aat at a busy intersection and a motorcycle down the road. They could honestly catch 2 or 3 a cycle. Change the Intersection each day and swim in the money from fines

  • Draco T Bastard

    The last trial was a success, get them rolled out already.

    Rolled out to every single traffic light and a very large fine ($1000+) for running them.

  • JamieWhite

    Whats the hold up roll out those cameras….also wondering if they will pull over the legions of buses e.g. Queen right turn into Krd

  • Anthony McBride

    Would be great income to fine $500 for whoever runs a red light.

    • Brendan

      Could the whole 12 billion dollar funding shortfall for ITP be solved using just red light cameras – we only need to issue 2,191 $500 tickets per day for the next 30 years – which is only 100 tickets per camera with 20 cameras – should be easily achievable.

      I wonder how many cameras we would need to cancel property rates entirely – Skypath could be funded entirely in just two years using a single camera issuing 100 tickets a day.

      • Loraxus

        Lol. We’d either have a revolt on hand, or speeding would actually reduce ;-)

      • Bbc

        Wouldn’t work out. Chicago had similar ideas with their speed cameras. If course as soon as they were installed speeds dropped down to below the speed limit. Much as red light runners would stop it at these intersections. In the end the aim should be to make it safe for all road users and profit to allow more cameras to be rolled out is the icing.

  • nonsense

    not to talk about port trucks.

  • harrymc

    Why no demerit points? A lot of our nouveau riche fellow citizens would look on the paltry fine as just another cost of driving, but demerit points would really hit hard.
    Also I like the Finnish method of tying the amount of the fine to the offender’s income.

    • Steve D

      Huh, that’s bizarre. You’re right, there are no demerit points for running a red light. Even though you get 20 points for a normal failure to give way according to the rules (at give way signs, etc). Unless I’m suddenly blind: http://www.legislation.govt.nz/regulation/public/1999/0099/latest/DLM280512.html

      • Loraxus

        Even better – use the Finish or Swiss models. Fine people based on their income! Rich folks have been fined several HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of dollars worth there for traffic fines, if they were really rich…

      • SteveC

        it’s probably the difference between enforcement by camera and enforcement by person, the same situation applies to speed cameras, no demerits

        • Steve D

          As you say, there’s no demerits for camera enforcement. But AFAICT there’s no demerit points even if you are caught in person.

    • Also I like the Finnish method of tying the amount of the fine to the offender’s income.

      Actually, I’d forgotten that idea and I like it. What you get is people screaming about inconsistency and that people should always be fined the same amount for the same crime. The problem comes from the rich as the fines leveled are set to hurt the poor but still be affordable for them. Such fines are little more than a nuisance for the rich and so, yes, I do think that fines should be set as a proportion of peoples income.

      The problem with giving out demerit points from a camera is that it may not be the owner driving. Of course, the owner should actually know who’s driving and be able to tell the police so that the person who is driving gets the fine and the demerits. They would certainly have enough incentive :twisted:

      • Steve D

        The thing about applying demerit points to the owner of the vehicle is that there’s no logical connection. Allowing someone else* to run red lights in your car doesn’t make you a bad driver yourself. It makes as much sense as giving people demerits on their licence for, say, supplying liquor to a minor. Sure, you’ve committed an offence, and it’s a way to “punish” you for that, but there’s no link between the two.

        Losing your driver’s licence shouldn’t be treated as a punishment – because that makes having a licence a right, in the first place. Your driver licence should be a statement that you’ve proved yourself safe enough to be on the road, no more, no less.

        Plus, you don’t have to have a licence to own a car. You don’t even need to be a natural person – companies and other organisations can own cars. What do you do for them? It needs to at least seem like it’s a fair equivalent.

        (* even if we all know it was probably you driving, the Police can’t prove that).

        • Mike

          Speed camera fines are payable by the owner unless it can be proved that he/she wasn’t the driver – there’s no reason why the same principle couldn’t apply to red light cameras (it may well already do so), or to demerit points.

          • Steve D

            For fines, that’s the case right now. The owner of the car can get fined from a speed camera or red light camera. That’s because fines (like prison sentences) are generic punishments for any offence. There’s nothing wrong with an offence that punishes people for “allowing” their car to be used to run a red light, but it’s very weird to decide that they are somehow bad drivers themselves for doing so.

            My point is that I don’t think losing your licence should be considered a generic “punishment” – because that means we have to treat driving as a right for everyone else, and it dilutes any chance we have of getting bad drivers off the road. You should only get demerits if you’ve demonstrated actual bad driving, and it should be additional to the real punishment, not as the punishment itself.

  • A few weeks ago this blog was defending red light runners, so good to see that view has changed.

    • Linz

      Mischievous, Geoff. A thousand trucks and cars run red lights, greatly endangering everyone, and nothing happens. A cyclist runs a red light and is killed. It’s in everyone’s interest to push for a safe transport system that doesn’t kill its users.

    • helen

      yes, I hope cyclists are targeted too. the police need to be fair to all users, not just letting some get away with it just because they are bit precious.

  • Charles

    Busdrivers! Now that would make a difference.

  • BD

    It’s a money making industry for the government they don’t care about the safety of people they just want a way of making money from fines.

  • ejtma

    I hope they have the courage to stop cyclists who run red lights and fine them. Those who don’t have a licence or ID to verify identity should be treated the same way as a driver in the same situation.

    It goes without saying that cars and other drivers should be dealt with to the letter of the law.

    • wtl

      You are required to provide your personal details to the police when requested. However, there is no law in NZ requiring people to carry ID at all times, so there is no basis to fine non-drivers for not carrying ID.

      • Sailor Boy

        Not quite, it isn’t upon request, only if they have reasonable suspicion of a crime having been committed, so in this case yes, generally no.

  • You seem to be saying enforcement is to protect victims of red light runners. This is incorrect, it’s to protect the criminal just as much. That’s why cyclists running red lights should be targeted for enforcement action, as they are the greatest danger to themselves. Just like motorists not wearing seatbelts, the enforcement/education is for them.

    • Bryce P

      Depends on your definition of ‘red light running’ Geoff. Many cyclists deemed as red light runners are actually just using the pedestrian phase to cross the road and therefore, according to any info on injury statistics I can find, pose incredibly little risk to themselves or pedestrians. Criminals!

      • Well that and turning left while hugging the kerb, equally not such an issue.

        • Bryce P

          Exactly. Legal in many other places because of the low risk. Just because it’s law doesn’t make it right.

          • Your point is an excuse, and also works in reverse. A country making it legal to run a red in some circumstances, also doesn’t make it right. It’s illegal in New Zealand, therefore you should not do it, and should not make excuses for those who do. It’s legal to not wear a seatbelt in some countries too, that doesn’t make it right.

            It’s perfectly safe for a motorist to run a red if there’s no conflicting traffic, but that’s not what determines whether it’s right or wrong to do so. The law is.

          • Bryce P

            I will continue to use the pedestrian phase as I see fit and run the risk of a fine. I’d rather that than being lined up in front of a car (probably with a driver in a hurry to Subway). I’ll ride to stay alive.

          • nonsense

            This. It’s so simple. Just give way to peds.

          • If you are going to take it upon yourself to ride to your own rules instead of the law, then you have no right to complain about anyone else deciding to do the same, including any motorist who may one day run a red and put you in hospital. I have no time for road users who flout the law, and frankly you need to get yourself off the road. You don’t belong there.

          • Bryce P

            If a motorist runs a red in this situation, he will also collect pedestrians. Put aside your focus on lawbreaking for a second and have a think about what i have described Geoff. There is no risk as long as I a)wait for the pedestrian phase b)cross carefully so as not to transfer risk to any pedestrians. If I’s a busy Barnes Dance like in Q St, I’ll dismount and walk. I do what i do not to get ahead but to stay alive. I cant tell you how many time drivers have ‘pushed’ me to the kerb on the opposite side of a signalised intersection. What i do now is a natural progression from being bullied by motorists at intersections. One leads to the other.

        • Neil

          not much of an issue? wasn’t that the scenario in the Parnell / SH 16 incident?

          • Bryce P

            We don’t know enough details about what happened in that incident. Best to await the coroner’s report.

          • Obviously not as that cyclist ended up in the path of a truck.

          • ejtma

            Bryce It has been esrablished as fact the cyclist ran a red light

          • Bryce P

            Wrong. What we know is that he entered the intersection on a red light. We don’t know that he purposely ran the red. I can tell you that on a bike, trucks are a big deal, and you’re very unlikely to want to tangle with them. The guy was new to bike riding. Did he misjudge his stopping distance? Did he have a gear failure? Did he make the mistake of trying to stop on a painted line? Was there something on the road that affected his stopping distance? Did he have a heart attack? Any of these things could have contributed to his death. We have no proof that he intended to run the red light. Like I said, best we await the coroners report.

          • Billy

            Bryce, you don’t do yourself, other cyclists or this blog any credit by making statements like that. going through a red light is wrong and dangerous and you should be trying to set an example rather than promoting a care free attitude and pretentious frame of mind. The fact that most cyclists get away with it does not remove the risk involved with it and severity of an accident.

          • Bryce P

            Billy, you’ve obviously chosen to misread my comments. I am not flying through an intersection in the traffic lane, which is dangerous. I am merely using a different phase of the lights. Taken at slow speed, there is virtually no risk to anyone. You’re welcome to hop on a bike and I can show you what ‘running the red’ means to those cyclists who do this. I have never advocated running a red light on a vehicle phase. There is a huge difference.

          • You can describe your red light running as “I am merely using a different phase of the lights” all you want, it’s ILLEGAL. Either ride within the law, or get off the road.

          • Geoff what you never seem to grasp is that laws and regulations are conditional, changing, human made things that can be debated and discussed, changed, and even deleted. And this is exactly the right kind of place to raise the quality and efficacy of current rules. All laws are acts of hope, hope that they will find if not universal, then at least widespread acceptance. And ones that are routinely flouted may turn out to be poor ones. Pretty clear everyone understands the current status of their actions; doesn’t mean we can’t discuss real world behaviour.

            Laws of physics however are not matters of opinion, like what happens to a person, on a bike or otherwise, hit by a couple of tonnes of metal inexpertly directed by another person.

          • “Geoff what you never seem to grasp is that laws and regulations are conditional, changing, human made things that can be debated and discussed, changed, and even deleted.”

            Correct. But that’s not what Bryce’s disregard for the existing law in his actions is defined as. Breaking the law is none of the things you describe.

          • nonsense

            yes yes yes! Couldn’t have said it better

          • nonsense

            that was a reply to Patrick

          • Discussing law changes and breaking the law because you don’t agree with it are two different things.

          • Geoff you are making a small point, and a pedantic one.

            The real issue here is that in as much as the Law attempts to make us believe that a tens of kilogram human powered vehicle and tonnes and tonnes of metal accelerated by many kilowatts of explosive energy are at all similar and should be subject to identical laws then it is ‘an arse’. And where ever the Law is an arse it will be transgressed.

            Furthermore ‘breaking the law because you don’t agree with it’ is exactly the way to get it changed. Otherwise homosexuality, for example, would still be illegal.

            I guess you don’t cycle in Auckland traffic, if you did for any length of time you would soon find yourself in contravention of some traffic rule designed for powered vehicles, or in serious trouble, or at the very least find the whole thing so pointless and stressful as to not bother- like most Aucklanders.

            I’m not arguing that people on bikes don’t have responsibilities to other road users [especially pedestrians but also all other road users] and that there shouldn’t be be rules they should follow, but the idea that these will be identical to car, truck, and bus laws is patently stupid.

            The Law, like our street and road design, ignores both the responsibilities and the opportunities for people on these uniquely beautiful and useful vehicles to the point of virtually driving their use underground. And this is a tragedy for the nation’s well being and wealth. And must change.

          • Jemma

            Patrick, what are you on about? “…… ‘breaking the law because you don’t agree with it’ is exactly the way to get it changed……” you really need to change the way you portray your comments as you are actively promoting and encouraging people to break the law. How can you be taken seriously doing that?

          • ‘Jemma’ my statement is very clearly about improving both the Law and its compliance and this would be plainly obvious to any intelligent reader.

          • NCD

            Civil disobedience has a long and noble history

          • Bryce P

            We’re not breaking the law because we disagree with it. We’re breaking the law because it is safer in some circumstances to do so. If people cannot see the difference here then I am at a loss to try and explain it any clearer other than us all meeting at a busy intersection and providing showing how it works.

          • It is NOT safer to run a red than to wait for the green. Again Bryce, I say to you – get off the road. You don’t belong there.

          • It certainly can be. You’ve obviously never riddled a bicycle through an intersection in Auckland. If you wait for the traffic green the usual outcome is a motorist forcing you into the kerb or parked cars, that’s if they acknowledge your existence at all.
            Often much safer to use the pedestrian phase green to proceed ahead.

          • Geoff Blackmore

            And how does that stop the same motorists doing the same thing a bit further ahead at the next parked cars? What you describe isn’t specific to intersections. If you’re too impatient to wait for the green light, then dismount, walk your bike across the pedestrian crossing, then resume riding.

          • Because you usually end up using the road off the pulse of traffic, i.e. you clear the intersections before the vehicles and ride without them trying to run you down. Most people who only drive don’t realise but a cyclist tends to be faster than a driver in traffic, if you use the pedestrian phase to clear the intersection more safety then the traffic tends not to ever catch up. If they do overtake it then tends to be mid block, not at the constrained exit from an intersection. If it happens again at the next intersection then you do it again.

            It sounds inflamatory to say that, but if you have ever ridden through a signalised intersection in Auckland you would see it’s the truth. Most drivers either ignore you completely and try and drive straight through you, or they insist on putting the hammer down and swerving around to overtake you, even if you are going faster than them (and indeed completely regardless of what the law says).

            We have one completely different set of rules for pedestrians, yet somehow cyclists are supposed to behave exactly like cars… even when no car driver treats them like that. The car laws are wrong for cyclists and it’s often safer to actively avoid some of them.

          • Kent Lundberg

            An extreme example from Symonds and K Rd. I stop at the green light and cross on the red light. Seriously, if you haven’t ridden a bike in Auckland you don’t understand.

          • Bryce P

            I’ve as much right as any motor vehicle. Share nicely. Just yesterday I had someone attempt to overtake me, into the oncoming traffic lane (what the?) while I was turning right at the top of a T intersection. While motorists carry on doing their best to intimidate us off the road, expect us to do what is required to stay in one piece.

          • “The real issue here is that in as much as the Law attempts to make us believe that a tens of kilogram human powered vehicle and tonnes and tonnes of metal accelerated by many kilowatts of explosive energy are at all similar and should be subject to identical laws then it is ‘an arse’”

            The law doesn’t say that, you’re just making it up.

            But your point on physics does show why it’s MORE important for a cyclist to stop at a red light than a motorist. A motorist will probably survive a collision, whereas a cyclist has a greater chance of being killed. It’s illogical for you to claim cyclists should somehow be allowed to run reds when they more than anyone will pay the higher price when they get hit for doing so.

          • Bryce P

            Geoff, as a cyclist who had a very close run with a motorist (who thought that going through a narrow chicane, at the same time as I, was some kind of sport) just last week, I acknowledge your comment but I will do what I have to in order to ride my bike and get home to my family each day and not put others at risk in the process. What we really need to use best practice ideas from the rest of the world in order to make cycling safer in NZ. In some places, this includes a phase for bikes (which may be at the same time as pedestrians). Until that day, I’ll continue on doing what I do. And that’s all I have to say on the matter.

          • ps1

            Obviously going through a red is wrong if you’re a vehicle. But I think the problem is cycling is neither vehicle nor pedestrian. And sometimes when you are riding the bike you are more like a pedestrian. (I am a slow rider, go about 15 km an hour) and have a bell on a rural footpath. It’s illegal. But i have more in common with a pedestrian than a 80 km an hour truck. So i ride to live. In a residential area of 30km with low traffic i would ride on the road. However, in 50km an hour traffic in an urban area, a 30 km hour commuter cylist is a vehicle and has more in common with road users. But if bryce tootles across the pedestrian crossing phase at 5-10km an hour (and is on a lighweight bike) – he has more in common with a pedestrian than a truck or car with weight and acceleration. I wonder whether now that bikes can measure km/h whether we should just have speed limits or just courtesy. Eg. bike lane in mission bay 25km an hour limit – over 25km an hour your a road cyclist. Going in a low use pedestrian environment 15 km/h and cyclists must give way to pedestrians. Food for thought.

          • ps1

            And while i’m at it…..my husbands just back from Canberra, and reports huge bike useage and all over the footpath. The dutch share narrow footpath space too. Perhaps, you just need to do a pedestrian friendly speed in a pedestrian environment .

          • That’s my policy when I inevitably end up riding on the footpath: slow to walking pace and give way to pedestrians.

      • Cyclists are required to follow the same road rules as all other road users Bryce. It’s illegal to run the red by “using the pedestrian phase”.

        • Bryce P

          But you were talking about danger Geoff. Make up your mind whether you just want enforcement because it’s the law or whether you truly believe a cyclist using the pedestrian phase is dangerous? Yes it’s illegal but I think it’s a silly law that serves no purpose other than to make motorists feel better about being stuck in the queue with the cyclists.

  • Ari

    “About time but why only really crack down for a month?”

    Um, because there isnt enough funding for police to just stand at the side of the road and pull over drivers all day? There are only so many staff to go around. Crime is at an 30 year low. I see huge budget cuts for the police coming.

    Just to clarify, Councils cannot issue fines for moving violations, only when the vehicles are parked. Only the police can issue tickets for speeding, red light running etc. RLR cameras are being held up purely by the Police bureaucracy because they cant agree on who processes the fines, who collects the money, who gets the money, where the money goes, what cameras to use, where to use them, how to decide where to put them etc.

    I think we will start seeing some RLR cameras being rolled out next year some time. But I expect them to be far too few. They should be installed at every intersection in the CBD.

  • Is anyone actually arguing *against* not differentiating between cyclists and drivers for red-light running offenses? If so I’ve missed it.

    On the side, if on my bike and in a hurry (say, trying not to miss a ferry) and a barnes dance comes before my green, I’ll dismount and run my bike across during the barnes dance, remount at the other end and carry on.

  • Ok I just replied now but it ended up (not threaded) six comments above. How’d that happen?

  • SteveC

    for many years we were told that traffic signal cycles in NZ are significantly lnger than in many overseas jurisdictions, I wonder whether shortening cycles and therefore wait times on reds would lead to less amber/red running

  • When walking or cycling anywhere with traffic I will do what ever it takes to not die; if that involves not following the letter of the law strictly, well, like, ‘sorry’.

    Call me contumacious, but alive and kicking beats dead and law abiding.

    • jonno1

      Contumacious, believe it or not I agree with you. If when driving I happen to be at or near the front of the queue at a red right, I’m delighted when a cyclist runs the red and basically gets out of the way. I’m not as keen on it when a pedestrian, having been nearly bowled a few times (the cyclist having zoomed out from behind a stationary car). But if a cyclist does as Andrew suggests during a pedestrian phase, ie dismounts and walks across, I don’t see any problem.

      • Bryce P

        I don’t dismount but i slow to walking pace until I know I’m clear of pedestrians. I also politely use my bell when needed.

        • SteveC

          similarly, on Queen St I used to wait until the majority of peds had cleared the crossing before proceeding slowly and carefully, I could get from Aotea Sq to the ferry in only five minutes in peak traffic that way

    • Bryce P

      Phil? That’s extreme for a public blog. Someone please get a screenshot for the next time they accuse the blog owners of being overly judicious.

  • James M

    Cars weigh ~1500kg, travel at 50kph, hit and kill hundreds of people a year
    Bike & rider weigh ~80kg, travel at 20kph, hit people and don’t tend to kill them.

    OMG I just saw a cyclist running a red light! Quick, let’s write letters to the Herald, get incredibly angry and lose all sense of perspective.

  • mike

    or we can do our part at photo the red light runners we see and send to police but yes we need more done at intersections re red light runners.
    or do like aussie and have a 3 or more second delay between changes as silly here one light turns red and right away other side of road goes green so yes ya can be caught in between light changes .

  • Ari

    I don’t mind cyclists running reds. If they make a mistake, they can easily end up dead and it will entirely be their fault for breaking the law. But they are also unlikely to make suicidal decisions.

    LOL, Patrick, so what you are saying is that breaking the law is ok as long as you believe you are right or because everyone else was doing it????

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