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Drink driver numbers stun police

Drink driver numbers stun police

A routine police alcohol operation on the Kapiti Coast has caught ten motorists for drink driving offences with a further 62 blowing just under the legal limit.

Inspector Allan Boreham, Wellington Police District road policing manager, says officers were stunned by the high number of offenders caught in one roadside operation. One driver was nearly twice the legal limit.

"It suggests two things --we’re getting better catching offenders or drink driving is still a significant problem for some people.

"Drink drivers are gambling with their lives and those of innocent road users," he says. "They’re also gambling on not being caught."

A total of 1200 cars were stopped on State Highway 1 at McKay’s Crossing Friday week ago with one driver in every 120 caught for drink driving offences. A further 62 drivers failed the initial screening test and were subsequently found to be just under the legal limit.

"Most of those stopped were caught between 4am and 5am on Saturday morning and they had been drinking in Wellington city," Mr Boreham said. "It’s an awfully long way home from Courtenay Place bars to the Kapiti Coast.

"We’ve been told drivers were aware of the police operation but they’d taken a punt on getting home undetected. They thought we’d have packed up and gone home by the time they passed through the checkpoint. They were wrong.

"People are fooling themselves if they delay their journey home to try and avoid being caught. Our general duties staff work around the clock. The simple message is that if you have been drinking, don’t drive."

Mr Boreham says the results from the joint Traffic Alcohol Group and Kapiti Mana police traffic units should serve as a warning for all motorists that police drink drive operations happen anywhere and any time of the day or night.
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Police in the Wellington District are refocusing their approach on alcohol, speed, use of restraints and other risk promoting driver behaviour to try and make our roads safer.

"Speed is the single biggest killer and injury factor on Wellington roads. Thirty percent of our crashes and more than 60 percent of our fatal crashes are speed related," Mr Boreham says.

The ‘street racer’ legislation -- introduced on 1 May -- is already making a difference with 11 vehicles impounded already in the region. Most of the impoundments have happened in Lower Hutt with a couple in Kapiti Mana and the Wairarapa Areas. There has been none in Wellington City Area.

"We’ve been taking a combined educative and enforcement approach," Mr Boreham says.

"The fear factor of getting caught and the impact of your car being impounded is having an enormous effect. There’s still some evidence of boy racer activity.

"We’re enforcing reported or detected street racing or street related offences and we will be running covert operations across the Wellington District."

Kapiti Mana Area is taking a proactive approach with public meetings attended by street racers and a ‘boy racer’ activity day planned for 14 June.

And with the onset of winter, police are pleading for motorists to watch their following distances.

Following too closely to the vehicle in front is one of the primary causes of crashes on the region’s motorways.

"Remember the two-second rule and leave sufficient space between yourself and the car in front," Mr Boreham says. "A small error can lead to a multi car pile up, congested lanes and frayed tempers."

A simple rule of thumb is to allow a gap of less than five car lengths or 20m for speeds of 50 to 60kmph and six car lengths for speeds above 60kmh. Or, count slowly from a fixed point 1001, 1002.

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