The Christchurch Press
22 December 2004
By ANNA CLARIDGE
Police have vowed to improve driving standards as new figures reveal half of all police car crashes in the past year were caused by police drivers.
A major driver training initiative will attempt to reduce the alarming accident rate.
Figures released to The Press under the Official Information Act show 735 police vehicles were involved in crashes in the year ending October.
Police were found to have caused more than 380 of those accidents.
The police crash repair bill, including any third-party repairs, topped $1.14 million.
Inspector John Kelly, of police national headquarters, said yesterday that many of the crashes were "minor dings".
"When you consider the number of police and the type and amount of driving they do, there are not that many crashes," he said. "But can we do better? Yes, we can."
Figures for Canterbury show 80 police cars were involved in crashes for the year to October, of which 45 were found to have been the fault of police drivers.
Kelly said police had introduced a professional police driver programme this year to combat the poor performance.
"The main thrust of this is to improve the police driving standard," he said. "Driving is a core police activity – all police do it – and when you consider the thousands of kilometres police travel each year, they don't do that badly."
The programme would provide driver classification through on-the-job assessment, followed by targeted training.
The programme was designed to address safety concerns and better manage police driving.
In February, police introduced training in a new police pursuits process after 10 people were killed in a year in crashes which followed police chases.