In the 1990s New Zealand?s strategic road safety planning framework was recognised as international best practice, but this achievement had not been matched by frontline enforcement. In response, New Zealand Police adopted a new approach based on the theory of general deterrence (Homel, 1988). However, changing police practice can be difficult, and the challenge was to shift from meeting traditional output measures to the types of enforcement and level of performance that reduce road trauma.
It was thought that a new performance reporting system would be the means of implementing the general deterrence strategy. This outcome-focused system prioritised key measures around trauma-promoting offences, such as excessive speed, driving while
intoxicated, and failure to wear restraints. The result was a reporting system that analyses and compares district performance but is also applicable at an area, unit, and individual level. The system ensures police remain focused on trauma reducing activities despite the demands of reactive policing. Crucially, it allows both high and low performance to be identified and the causes of each to be analysed, allowing problems to be addressed while promoting competition and the replication of success.
As well as stimulating an improved level of enforcement, the system has provided police districts with clear direction on maximising their effectiveness. The support this approach has received from both the Police Executive and Government has ensured widespread acceptance and its permeation throughout the organisation. Those districts that have performed well according to the key indicators have achieved the greatest reductions in road trauma. This has vindicated the system and cemented its position as a key means of reducing road trauma.