A brush with the law in Tapanui
OPINION: On a wintry West Otago morning recently, I sped up the hill into Tapanui on the way to the Lawrence-Tuapeka Community Board meeting – and into the arms of the local lawman, Senior constable John Mawhinney.
I’d been pinged. I’d failed to notice the 50kmh speed sign at the top of the hill.
Why on earth is the sign there, and not at the bottom of the hill to the south, I asked the senior constable. He said he’d been asking the same question.
The awkward placement of the 50kmh sign, and on the northern flipside, the 100kmh sign, had been attracting complaints from people living in the new Dor- set St subdivision on State Highway 90, so he’d been policing the brow of the hill with some vigour.
We had a very civilised conversation, and we came to the conclusion that it should be about 200m south down the hill near the Welcome to Tapanui sign.
I was going to argue the ticket. But what if I’d hit a child? So I sucked it up and paid it.
Then to my surprise, the senior constable rocks up at the West Otago Community Board meeting on Wednesday. I thought, oh no, am I busted – again? But what for? However, he was there to get the board’s support for a letter he was writing to the NZ Transport Agency to move the sign, which would create a ‘‘buffer-zone’’ to transition from an open road speed to the residential area.
He also said he’d only just found out the Police had a policy of not ticketing anyone for speeding within 250m of a road speed zone.
I’m pretty sure I was well within that distance of the 50kmh sign (see, I should have argued it).
The community board seemed in support of the move for the sake of residents’ safety - and surely some of them have been pinged too.
So just how many tickets has Senior constable Mawhinney issued, and how many people will be storming the police station trying to get off their fine after this? That could be a topic for another day.
The 50kmh speed sign at Tapanui’s southern entrance.