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Full Highway Patrol Now On Road

The last of the Highway Patrol cars are now on the roads in time for Christmas, Ministers of Police and Transport, George Hawkins and Mark Gosche said today.

The latest of the fleet of Holden VX Commodore S Highway Patrol cars were rolled out a few weeks ago, bringing the fleet to 183 in total. The Ministers reflected on the first year of the Highway Patrol during a celebration at Parliament today.

“Road safety is a high priority for the Labour Alliance Government, and a year on it is clear that the $76.5 million we have committed to the Highway Patrol is making a difference,” said the ministers.

The dedicated Highway Patrol began operating in four Police districts in December 2000. Since then, Highway Patrols have been progressively introduced around New Zealand, with funding for 225 specialist police officers.

“The introduction of a distinctive and dedicated Highway Patrol has been a central policy plank of this government, and looking back over the first year of the patrol I feel very proud of the investment we have made,” said Mr Hawkins.

Mr Gosche said that the results for the first year of the Highway Patrol’s operation are very encouraging: “Between June and November 2001 we saw the lowest number of road deaths on record, and open road speeds dropped by 1.2 km/h in the first year of the patrol’s operation.”

“The Highway Patrol is working - the brightly marked vehicles have become a regular and welcome sight on our roads. New Zealanders are realising that it’s not worth speeding, because they will get caught.

“Last year’s annual road toll was the lowest since 1964 and this year we are on track to do even better, but there is no room for complacency. The Highway Patrol is working to reduce the road toll, but everyone has to do their part if we are to make this another record year on New Zealand roads,” said the ministers.

Contacts

HIGHWAY PATROL FACT SHEET - 18 DECEMBER 2001

- Today marks the first birthday of the Highway Patrol, which began operating in the North Shore/Waitakere, Waikato, Bay of Plenty and Wellington Police Districts in December 2000. Since then, Highway Patrols have been progressively introduced throughout New Zealand.

- In November 2001, the last of the new Holden VX Commodore S Highway Patrol vehicles were delivered to districts, bringing the fleet up to its full strength of 183.

- The blue and yellow battenburg livery is distinctive, highly visible and used only on traffic patrol vehicles. A blue and orange version of the design is to be progressively introduced across the rest of the Police vehicle fleet.

- The Highway Patrol is being staffed by 225 specialist police officers. Staff are keen to join, as they see it as an opportunity to make an impact on the road toll.

- There are more patrols on the roads now than at any time in New Zealand history. This includes the period before New Zealand Police merged with the Traffic Safety Service in 1992.

- The Highway Patrol has been enthusiastically received by the general public. Police have a strong mandate from the community to concentrate on road safety.

- The Highway Patrol aims to maintain a highly visible presence on the roads. Officers don’t run blitzes targeting particular driving offences - rather their approach is to put sustained enforcement effort into poor driving, speed, restraint-wearing and crash-causing offences. Visible, consistent enforcement backed by publicity creates a deterrent, and is one of the keys to reducing road trauma.

- Highway Patrol effort is directed at sections of the road system with fatality or injury rates well above the national average. Forty percent of the social cost of road death and injury is generated on the state highways (just 10 percent of the total network), and 75 percent of all road fatalities occur in rural areas.

- Results for the first 12 months of the Highway Patrol have been dramatic.

- The six-month period between June and November 2001 has seen the lowest number of road deaths on record (fewer than one per day).

- As at 5 December 2001, 298 people had died on the open road, compared with 360 for the same period the year before.

- Mean open road speeds have dropped by 1.2km/h on the previous year, according to an LTSA survey conducted at 65 sites around the country between June-August 2001.


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