Monday, June 7, 2010

ZenTiger Police Bring Out the Big Statistics

Police have announced they have saved 20% more lives by cracking down on speeding. This figure is based on a comparison from last years death toll.

I wouldn't mind more analysis than a one-to-one correlation.

What were the figures the year before?
Well, 10, which were the "worst figures in 13 years". So that could be an aberration, rather than the norm.

What were the figures the year before that?
Three. See what I mean?

So what were the driving conditions like last year?
Quote: "Bad weather appeared a likely culprit in a number of crashes as the cold snap kept its grip on the country. "Obviously the weather may be a factor in some. We've had a number of single vehicle loss of control-type collisions," he told NZPA. "

In 2009, were there any particular single crashes taking multiple lives?
Quote: "In Waikato four people died after a head-on crash on Saturday."

Were there any accidents involving pedestrians?
Quote: "A pedestrian and a truck driver were killed in a crash on State Highway 1 at Ohakea on Sunday."

There are many factors that drive the road toll, and the police's assurance it's all down to speed is not the full story, even though it is a factor. We could end the death toll overnight if the speed limit was 30kph. However, ticketing thousands of motorists to convince the few mad ones to drive to the conditions is the sledge hammer approach that has the pleasant side effect of raising vast amounts of revenue.

There's no argument that we have speed limits for a reason, and they need to be respected. However, overly pedantic enforcement of the limits whilst far too many bad and inconsiderate drivers get away with tailgating, or slow drivers holding up traffic for kilometers because they refuse to pull over to let other drivers stick to the limit needs to get more visibility in the public's eye before we blithely accept thousands of tickets for these suspect statistics.

80/20 rule - 80 percent more tickets result in 20% fewer crashes??

16 comment(s):

Lindsay Mitchell said...

Thanks for looking up those stats.
My gut feeling is that many people just stayed home this weekend. And those who ventured out drove to the conditions which have been at times appalling. I encountered two speed camera vans yesterday, one at the southern end of Pukerua Bay just before the 50kmph zone becomes 100km. Very dangerous spot - not.

ZenTiger said...

Yes, the weather forecast may have kept far more cars off the road than last year. Last year, it was an unexpected cold snap, with foggy conditions that may have caught drivers by surprise.

It would be interesting to see if the car count in general is up or down this year over last year.

KG said...

Buried deep in the article was this line:
"Police were equally targeting "inconsiderate" slow drivers who held up a queue of traffic behind them, causing others to overtake."

But that wouldn't have made a great headline, would it?

ZenTiger said...

I noticed that, and was somewhat cheered. But then I thought, they probably say that to offset complaints.

What was missing from that PR statement was "we issued xxx tickets against slow drivers" and that detail was missing because....????

Psycho Milt said...

I posted on this myself, suggesting Police inability to understand statistics. On further reflection, I suspect the Police understand the statistics perfectly well - but since journalists obviously don't, why not score a propaganda victory?

ZenTiger said...

Aye. Although if we bloggers are any reflection on the perception from the general public, they may have to work harder on their press releases.

I'm sure the part of the job that requires police to turn up at accidents and report the carnage back to family would create some very passionate spokespeople for advocating tighter controls.

I'd like to see some of that advocacy pushing for better roading - like dual carriageway for the state highway, more passing lanes, more median barriers, continued focus on accident hot spot areas, harsher penalties for repeat offenders and so forth.

Unknown said...

There's a problem with this post. The police claimed a 20% reduction in crashes, not fatalities.

That claim is a little more difficult to ridicule. Admittedly, that's not saying much. :)

ZenTiger said...

Thanks for pointing that out Stripe. Although I'm wondering if that makes it worse in terms of reporting, because they mention crashes and then the discussion talks only of fatalities. Again, the lack of numbers in relation to the average over previous years, and the mapping of the stats to only last year which was a 13 year high, is the reason for my complaint.

They strongly suggest a correlation between speeding tickets and road deaths and offer no evidence other than a sweeping comparison to last year.

We deserve better than that. With the amount of revenue they collect from tickets, we've certainly paid for better quality information.

Psycho Milt said...

Unfortunately, numbers of deaths from road crashes are even more subject to fluctuation than numbers of crashes. If we give the cops credit for the "low" number this year, will they be so eager to take the credit if next year's a "high" number?

Unknown said...

I would say that the police have a valid point. Speed blitzes will reduce crashes. Their claim of correlation and causation are probably accurate. I think it is perfectly reasonable to assume reducing speed by whatever means will reduce crashes.

The real problem with policing speed is the manner in which it is done. Fines for speeding creates an inherent conflict of interests. Every claim that this is not the case should be ignored and a policing method based on sound foundations should be implemented.

Unknown said...

In other news: Why does my avatar not work? Or is it just me? :)

ZenTiger said...

I notice it is working on the pop up comments box, but not inline. Strange. No idea why at this point.

Unknown said...

The last time my avatar stopped working was when I got banned from Public Address. :chuckle:

FreeMack said...

If there is a direct correlation between the police enforcement activity and the road toll this weekend, as they imply (claim).
Then surely they should be held liable for last years toll! They neglected there duties and people died.
I personally think that it was the prosecution of the slow drivers that did it!

Unknown said...

No .. it is never the police's fault that people crash. That would be the fault of the drivers who speed, drink and overtake carelessly. The police are at no fault if they do not act as they have done this year. Where they are at fault is in setting up a system where their finances are dependent upon people speeding.

MathewK said...

"Police were equally targeting "inconsiderate" slow drivers who held up a queue of traffic behind them, causing others to overtake."

I'd like to see that happen, for years they've told us speed kills, implying that slow speed is safer and doesn't kill. Now they're doing the exact opposite, are they going to set minimum limits.

If not, why is 10km below worse than 20km.

If so, will trucks get fined? Will old pieces of sh!t be fined because they just can't drive that fast. What about people coming back from hospital after having their guts sown back in and are in pain, slap those bastards with a fine too.

It's madness i tell you.

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