Why police focus on driving
Crashes on roads in Porirua and Kapiti take more of Paul Basham’s focus than homicide.
Kapiti-Mana Police’s area commander said the five ‘‘drivers’’ for his staff in the district are, in no particular order, youth, family violence, organised crime and drugs, alcohol, and road policing.
Basham said every member of the Kapiti- Mana police staff, including CIB and the leadership group that includes himself, must do a certain amount of time each month patrolling the roads.
‘‘ Statistically, six times more people are killed on the roads than are murdered,’’ he said. ‘‘Yes, the road toll is trending down, but it needs to get better.
‘‘ The injuries caused on our roads and highways, to families and to the country financially, are devastating.’’
The cost to the country annually was about $1.3 billion, he said, with each fatal accident having a price tag of $3 million.
‘‘Think about what we could do with that money – hip operations, apprenticeships, the list goes on.’’
Senior sergeant Anita Dixon is the head of road policing for this district.
She said drivers were generally well-behaved and that she could count only one fatal car accident in Kapiti-Mana in the past year.
In that time the number of crashes in the district dropped 14 per cent.
Dixon said the five road policing areas officers focused on were speed, restraint ( seatbelts), dangerous and careless driving, high- risk drivers and drinkdriving.
Dixon said she made no apologies for the number of tickets issued for driving offences, because infringement notices had been shown to modify behaviour.
‘‘There is no revenue-gathering, there are no quotas,’’ she said. ‘‘If you get a ticket for an offence committed on the road, you will moderate your behaviour in the month afterwards.
‘‘It reduces the risk to yourself and other people.’’
Dixon said police would continue to be visible in Kapiti-Mana, and not necessarily just at spots where accidents were known to occur.
The fear of being detected was a huge deterrent to speeding and unsafe driving, she said, so police being seen on the roads was vital.
Police would also continue to work with local councils and NZ Transport Agency on the ‘‘ safer journeys’’ programme to ensure people were aware of how dangerous New Zealand roads could be, Basham said.
‘‘ The country’s roads are unforgiving. Most state highways are two lanes – one mistake can be costly.’’
Basham said if you polled 1000 police officers, 95 per cent would say they joined the force to make a difference in their communities. Modifying driver behaviour was part of that, he said.
Kapi-Mana News will be speaking to Kapiti-Mana Police’s area commander Paul Basham regularly to update readers on topical issues.
Policing our roads: With State Highway 1 through the middle of the KapitiMana police district, road policing will always be a priority.