Motorway fines will hurt poor - author

A proposal to fine motorists who run out of fuel on Auckland's motorways has been slammed as ineffective and a fine on being poor.

Police have asked the New Zealand Transport Agency to investigate the possibility of fines as they attend an increasing number of stranded vehicles, which they say blocks lanes and endangers other motorists.

In three weeks in July last year, 148 vehicles ran out of fuel on Auckland's motorways.

But the fine plan was described as inappropriate and cruel by Clive Matthew-Wilson, editor of the car buyers' Dog & Lemon Guide.

"People generally run out of gas because they have no money. Only a politician or a policeman could come up with a bizarre scheme that fines people for being poor," he said.

Mr Matthew-Wilson said Auckland drivers usually had little choice but to use motorways given what he called "an appalling public transport system".

He said it might seem reasonable to police to tell drivers to ensure they had fuel in their cars when on motorways and fine them if they run out.

But he said there was little evidence fines would make drivers change their habits.

"No one deliberately runs out of petrol on a busy motorway. There's no criminal intent," he said.

"Sometimes people run out of gas because they simply have no money. Sometimes they run out of gas because their lives are messy. Either way, fining them is unlikely to solve anything.

"In fact it's probably going to make a bad situation worse."

Inspector Dave Walker, of the harbour bridge and motorways unit, said no decision would be made without considering the opinions of local authorities, emergency services, trucking organisations and the Automobile Association.

North Shore Mayor Andrew Williams said it would be "another pointless bureaucratic exercise and another thing for the police to enforce".

Manukau City councillor Colleen Brown said a bylaw would hit those who struggled with the cost of running a car and Rodney District deputy mayor John Kirikiri described the idea as "money-grabbing by the authorities".

 

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