School zone speeding crackdown looms

Constable Nayland Smith points out why speeding motorists have concerned Omarama residents. Photo by Andrew Ashton.
Constable Nayland Smith points out why speeding motorists have concerned Omarama residents. Photo by Andrew Ashton.
The sole-charge police station at Omarama will draft in extra recruits at the end of the month for a blitz on speedsters ignoring the 50kmh signs outside the local school.

A recent New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) speed survey outside Omarama Primary School, in September, clocked vehicles at speeds of up to 118kmh at 3pm, just when the children were leaving school. As a result, between this coming Tuesday and November 9, police officers would conduct overt and covert operations to net any speeding motorists endangering school children, Constable Nayland Smith said.

"Since being stationed at Omarama [in August 2011], I have been astounded by the amount of vehicles that speed through the Omarama township, past Omarama Primary School," Const Nayland said.

"The worst of the problem comes from vehicles travelling southbound pretty fast towards town."

A petition to tackle the problem was signed by 177 of the township's 231 residents within the first 10 days of being circulated around town, Const Smith said.

Speeding motorists were a problem that the whole township wanted to see an end to, he said.

Throughout the operation, police would be using speed guns on both marked and unmarked squad cars, and any vehicle travelling at 4kmh over the speed limit would receive an infringement notice and fine, he said.

Although the initiative was part of the "Speed Kills Kids" police programme, Const Smith referred to it as "Operation Barrel".

"Because getting tickets speeding past our school is as easy as shooting fish in a barrel."

A similar operation in February saw tickets issued at a rate of one every 12 minutes, and the upcoming operation was a way to further educate people and raise awareness of the issue, he said.

The NZTA this week confirmed funding for two flashing speed feedback signs, to be be installed north and south of the school, which he hoped would help reduce the problem in the future.