'Boy racers' were the targets of an inter-agency road safety operation in Lower Hutt overnight.
Speed, drag racing, burn outs, excessive noise and other illegal driving behaviours in the Riverbank carpark area of Lower Hutt, State Highway 2 near Melling, Seaview, Gracefield and other Lower Hutt suburbs were the focus.
The five-hour operation ended at 2am and involved police from throughout the Hutt Valley, Highway Patrol and Wellington District's Traffic Alcohol Group, Courts Collections Unit staff, Land Transport New Zealand vehicle and driver compliance unit officers and the local road safety coordinator.
Checkpoints were set up at Ludlam Crescent and Pharazyn Street by the Melling rail carpark. Drivers were breath tested, and checks made of licences, warrants of fitness and other vehicle compliance standards. Collections Unit staff also checked for outstanding fines.
Mobile police patrols were also incorporated into Operation Hitchhiker.
Offending detected included:
• 854 vehicles stopped • 854 drivers breath tested and one is being prosecuted for driving with a breath alcohol limit of 761mg/l - the third or more drinking driving prosecution for the driver. • 97 infringement notices issued for speed, seat belts, drivers licence breaches and other driving and vehicle offences • 14 vehicles were ordered off the road due to vehicle defects or because they were unsafe • 1 driver licence suspended • 7 vehicle impounds by the Collections Unit of the Court resulting in $25,482 in outstanding fines warrants executed - $330 in outstanding fines paid by credit card • 2 arrests - disorderly behaviour and assault.
Sergeant Tim Crum, head of the Lower Hutt Road Policing Group, said one of the cars stopped had an unlicensed female driver at the wheel. The three male passengers were all intoxicated but what was even more worrying was that the front passenger held a baby unrestrained on his lap.
"Babies and children must be in proper seat restraints when they're in vehicles," Sergeant Crum said. "If a vehicle crashes then a child that's unrestrained can suffer horrific injuries or death. Safety restraints are required for a good reason.
Sergeant Crum said police were disappointed at the overall offending rates detected last night.
"t's fair to say all agencies have issues with boy racer activity," he said. "Western Hills residents as well as those living around the Eastbourne area are subjected to a barrage of noise, especially on Thursday nights when up to 300 cars gather at the Riverbank carpark, and then take part in semi organised drags or races.
"The noise and road surface damage caused from burnouts and illegal drags is a real problem."
Sergeant Crum said police and other road safety partners are concerned that many of the young drivers put themselves and others at risk by their behaviour.
"They also rack up the costs through fines, default on payment, breach their graduated driver licences or operate illegally modified vehicles."
"We've spent several months planning this operation. We've run similar in the past and will continue to run more in the future."