Speed trap nets 145 in two weeks

Lead-footed out-of-towners have been warned police in Omarama will continue a strict approach to issuing speeding tickets, after a speed trap outside the town's school netted nearly 150 speeders in two weeks.

At the height of the operation, police handed out tickets to drivers speeding past Omarama School at a rate of one every three and a-half minutes, but Constable Nayland Smith said he was pleased no tickets were issued to locals.

Const Smith said from October 23 to November 2, 145 tickets were issued during the operation, which had operated mainly from 8am-9am and 3pm-4pm.

"Friday, October 26, was the worst day, with 17 tickets issued in one hour."

He said the main excuse given by speeding motorists was they did not realise the area outside the school was a 50kmh zone, despite the existence of warning signs.

"The highest speed recorded was 90kmh by an Oamaru resident. Her reason was she did not realise she was in a 50kmh area, despite driving through firstly a 70kmh zone then past the signs warning that in 150m there is a 50kmh zone, then past the school sign, then past the large 1.5sq m 50kmh signs.

"Lucky no kids jumped out in front of her as she probably wouldn't have seen them either."

In a similar operation in February, 38 tickets were dished out in a period of seven and a-half hours.

Although new speed feedback signs were due to be installed by the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) before Christmas, police would continue to "stringently" enforce the 4kmh rule, even after the signs were installed, he said.

Omarama School principal Diane Webb said the operation had helped to improve the safety of school children, and hoped there would be another police operation soon.

"Before the policeman started the operation we actually had the kids out on the court looking at speeding cars and seeing how many came past the school.

"They do rip past the school, so it did make our children feel a lot safer, because a lot of them walk as well, and a lot of them walk with their parents for that reason."

Ahuriri ward councillor Craig Dawson said it was "unbelievable" so many speeding motorists had been caught and welcomed the news feedback signs would be installed to encourage drivers to slow down.

"It is certainly a real problem.

We asked NZTA a while ago if they could put an imposing roundabout there to slow traffic down, but it was basically too expensive.

"The big trouble is that we have seen big trucks speeding through there at all hours of the night as well."

Senior Sergeant Jason McCoy, of Oamaru, said although a combination of factors were behind the number of speeding tickets issued, more tickets were issued than he would expect if similar operations were held in other locations.

"If we sat outside a school in Dunedin or Oamaru for two weeks, I wouldn't think we would get 145 infringements.

"The sheer physical factors of the Omarama School being on a highway, and going from that highway down to a residential speed limit, makes it probably more dangerous in relation to people speeding past that school.

"That operation was targeted in support of getting the flashing lights installed outside the school."


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