Heavy enforcement cuts road toll
'Operation Life' sees dog handlers issuing infringement
notices but Tasman's Road Policing Manager, Inspector Hugh
Flower says the permanent operation's heavy enforcement of
speed limits and the wearing of seatbelts has paid off with a drop
in the district's road toll.
In place since 2003, Hugh says
the operation has played a major role in the continuing downward
trend in injury crashes, deaths and hospitalisations,
as well as improving the crash reporting rate and decreasing crime
"The operation involved a shift in our road policing approach," says
Hugh. "We were giving far too many verbal warnings and not
"Verbal warnings merely reinforce bad driving habits and while
verbal warnings were the norm, crash numbers continued to increase.
"We adopted a zero-tolerance approach to speeding, not wearing
seatbelts and keeping left - cross the line and you pay the
fine. It might not be popular with the public but it's a fact
heavy enforcement means less trauma and death on the road.
The link between a decrease in road trauma and taking a hard line
with motorists is pretty clear after two-and-a-half years of Operation
"Within four months of Operation Life and the zero-tolerance
approach, there was a substantial increase in tickets being issued
and a subsequent
decrease in road trauma," says Hugh.
However, the operation is more than just tickets - the link
between traffic crime and general crime is well-documented.
"When there are lots of cops out there issuing tickets the
crime rate drops," says Hugh. "A safety belt check picked
up a known criminal who also happened to be in possession of stolen
"We also negated the alibi of a man accused of murder who
had been issued with an infringement notice while he claimed to be
Operation Life has also seen Highway Patrol staff visiting out-of-the-way
places in addition to highway work and Hugh believes this has probably
influenced the reduction in reported rural crime in the district.
"The zero-tolerance approach has emergency health and fire services
saying they are experiencing less demand for their attendance at
crashes; the district
has the lowest open road mean speed and second lowest urban road mean speed
in the country; and we are catching criminals at the same time."