Sadly there has been increasing carnage on our roads in recent times which has kept the road toll steadily rising. As of yesterday morning, for the year to date we’ve had 35 more deaths compared to the same time last year. With the road toll up currently by over 16% then if the current trend continues then 2015 will be the worst year for 5 years.

The carnage continued yesterday with two serious incidents, one in which a schoolboy was killed after his motorcycle collided with a car and in the second a 14 year old girl was hit and is in a serious condition after a “distracted driver” appears to have mounted a kerb while she was waiting to cross the road.

The increasing road toll and events particularly like the second one raise the question of whether we’re doing enough to keep people safe. There is no other area in society where we would consistently allow for so many people to be killed or injured and then do so little about it. Perhaps we need to implement Vision Zero.

So what is Vision Zero, Wikipedia gives a good succinct definition.

Vision Zero is a multi-national road traffic safety project which aims to achieve a highway system with no fatalities or serious injuries in road traffic. It started in Sweden and was approved by their parliament in October 1997. A core principle of the vision is that ‘Life and health can never be exchanged for other benefits within the society’ rather than the more conventional comparison between costs and benefits, where a monetary value is placed on life and health, and then that value is used to decide how much money to spend on a road network towards the benefit of decreasing how much risk

Vision Zero is based on four principles:

  • Ethics: Human life and health are paramount and take priority over mobility and other objectives of the road traffic system
  • Responsibility: providers and regulators of the road traffic system share responsibility with users;
  • Safety: road traffic systems should take account of human fallibility and minimize both the opportunities for errors and the harm done when they occur; and
  • Mechanisms for change: providers and regulators must do their utmost to guarantee the safety of all citizens; they must cooperate with road users; and all three must be ready to change to achieve safety.

We are very much still in the more conventional mode of assessing safety based on costs and benefits rather than doing everything it takes to get deaths and injuries down while spending the vast majority of road our money on mega motorway projects – although yes they can be safer than the roads they replace.

In response to these incidents the NZTA’s Road Safety Director Ernst Zollner says

“One of the most tragic aspects of serious road crashes is that nearly all of them are preventable.

“The Transport Agency will continue working with police, the Automobile Association and many others to create a safe system for all New Zealanders. That means making our roads and roadsides safer by removing trees and power poles, encouraging people to buy the safest car they can afford, encouraging safer speeds and it means stamping out dangerous behaviour like drink-driving,” Mr Zollner said.

There are of course different solutions needed for different environments. On rural roads widening shoulders, improving curves and sightlines as well as removing objects from the roadsides are often key however in an urban environment those measures would make the issue worse as it would encourage drivers to travel at faster speeds.

In urban areas we often need to slow traffic down and make it easier for pedestrians and cyclists to use the roads. Yesterday’s incident with the schoolgirl highlights a great example of the types of things we should be aiming to improve. St Lukes Rd is a busy four lane road and for people wanting to cross the road the only option is to wait for a gap in traffic then dash to the narrow median – what is often called a “pedestrian refuge” – where you then have to wait while cars and trucks wizz by in close proximity and at speed while you wait for another gap in traffic to rush to the other side. This makes it difficult to cross especially for anyone not able bodied. Of course as mentioned a refuge isn’t much good if a driver mounts it which raises other questions such as why the refuge has such easily mountable kerbs.

St Lukes Rd - Taylors Rd crossing

Of course another issue is that if you complained to AT/Local Board for long enough and managed to get an engineer our to assess the site they’d probably come back and say that because not many people use a crossing that there’s no value in upgrading it – ignoring the fact that people don’t use something because they don’t find it safe.

One thing that constantly frustrates me is that despite the solutions being known for some time, that we still seem to design roads with the same flaws. Some planners and engineers seem to be locked in a time warp and seem to wilfully ignore that best practice has changed. I almost wonder if transport professionals need an equivalent of the Hippocratic Oath to make roads safe for all users.

Ultimately though any improvement needs to be driven by politicians (with the support of the people of course). They are the ones who need to push aspirational goals like Vision Zero. For local politicians they’re the ones who need to be asking at every opportunity about how projects will make roads safer and whether what’s proposed is safe enough for an 8 year old or an 80 year old to be and feel safe.

So time for Vision Zero?

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  1. When it come to road safety in NZ, I’m thinking NZ law reads”shared responsibility” as equal responsibility. I’m not a lawyer, but I do speck at NOR hears, can anyone explain this in more detail.
    “The worst form of inequality is to try to make unequal things equal” Aristotle

    1. That great Aristotle quote explains exactly what is crazy about riding a bike on the roads in NZ; you’re supposed to follow laws written for the wielders of vast powered vehicles. Exactly a case of trying to treat the unequal as equals.

      Oh, except one of course; the compulsory plastic hat rule. Yes, insanely the state makes one concession to the unequal status of people on bikes and it’s a clothing rule. For riders.

  2. Zollner’s comment pretty much says it all: ‘working with police, the Automobile Association […] removing trees and power poles, […] buy the safest car they can afford, encouraging safer speeds […] like drink-driving’. We all know that cars, their growing numbers and the way they’re used are the problem, but every ‘solution’ he proffers is about cars and driving (oh, and chopping down trees; must be an Aucklander). Not one mention of pedestrians or cycling or a sense that he can perceive things from their perspective. It’s almost as if pedestrians and cyclists don’t exist and that the only bodies worth consulting are those like the police and the AA, both car-focussed organisations. Another example of NZTA traffic engineer group thinking. I can only imagine their ‘professional’ opinion when confronted with the alien ideology of Vision Zero.

    1. Minor point though: Ernst isn’t an engineer, he is an economist and regional planner by training. He also oversaw last year’s Cycling Safety Panel, so I wouldn’t say that he is oblivious to understanding issues of active modes. However he is also no doubt aware of the nervousness by politicians about lower speeds; hence the glacial pace of moving on that front.

  3. Due to differences in masses people will continue to be injured and die when impacts occur. Be it car/truck vs train, ped vs train, car vs truck, car vs bike, bike vs ped, ped vs car and so on. People aren’t perfect so accidents occur. They occur in all walks of life, industries etc and people get injured and some die. I think this obsession with ‘slowing’ vehicles will eventually see us all going at 5 mph with a chap with a red flag walking in front. More people die from diseases and other accidents in NZ than they do from transport accidents. The Police have obsessed about all manner of ‘populist’ reasons, and yet people still die. Proper analysis of the spate over the last holiday break showed it was not drink or the dreaded speed, but still they obsess. Until you can inject large doses of commonsense and intelligence into all humans this will continue to some degree. You can’t cotton wool the world.

    1. We shouldn’t wrap everything in cotton wool, but we should make street / road design decisions more transparent and accountable.

    2. Yet unlike your claims, traffic in European and Scandinavian countries that have adopted this keeps moving, and their safety records SHAME ours badly.

      Also, your comments misunderstands one core point more – reducing speeds is exactly the acceptance that yes, drivers WILL never be perfect and WILL crash. Vision Zero is not about no crashes. It is about no one dying from crashes. And speed is THE key factor in that.

      1. That is because where suitable they have increased speed limits on highways. Our rigid 100km/h speed limit is an absolute joke by international standards. Most countries have speed limits of between 110 and 130km/h on multi-lane divided highways (and yet have lower death tolls).
        Conversely it is appropriate that in an urban environment certain roads have lower speed limits.
        Basically speed limits in NZ should be as follows:
        motorways/expressways: 110km/h (possibly even 120km/h on some. I wouldn’t make it faster than that as while most of our motorways are good they aren’t as good as many overseas).
        other main rural highways: 100km/h
        rural highways (that are less safe): 90km/h
        urban main arterial roads: 60-80km/h
        other main urban roads: 50km/h
        urban roads in centres with high pedestrian volume: 40km/h
        shared space/pedestrianised areas: 30k/h

        NZTA/Police really need to focus on safety in general rather than revenue gathering on motorways and highways with their idiotic zero tolerance policy and the current low speed limit on these roads. There is absolutely NO way that drivers focusing on their speedometer is safer than the same driver having their eyes on the road! Likewise putting speed cameras on passing lanes (where it is safe to pass) is completely nuts and only encourages drivers to take risky manoeuvres to pass people in less safe sections of the road. Driver frustration is one of the leading causes of accidents (people tend to drive more safely when they are comfortable and relaxed driving at a speed that suits them rather than getting frustrated by some numpty sitting in the right hand lane on the motorway doing 90km/h or 80km/h on the open road and speeding up to 105km/h in the passing lanes.

        1. Well that sounds like a nightmare, an 80kph main road? 30kph through a shared space? More like 50 and 10 thanks.

        2. Yeah there are quite a few main roads that suit that. HBC hwy for example, Hamilton has quite a few too, I’m sure there are other places that have them. The type with a median strip and 2 lanes in each direction with limited amounts of driveways etc off them.

        3. Most people who point to other countries with higher speed limits than us fail to realise that they typically apply to very few roads in those countries – in NZ a 110km/h limit for example could only be entertained on less than 1% of our existing highways. Far more deserving is consideration of the lower speed limits that are much more common in those countries, e.g. generally they wouldn’t dream of having winding two-lane rural roads at 100km/h everywhere like we do; they would typically be 60-90km/h depending on their function and protective features. Similarly, most urban local (non-arterial) streets would typically be 30km/h.

        4. In most developed countries any road that is a multi-laned divided highway (motorway, freeway, autobahn, autostrada, dual-carriageway, autoroute, expressway, etc) have speed limits of between 110 and 130km/h (while some are even higher or have no limit as is the case with sections of the autobahn in Germany). These are quite extensive in most of these countries (and if you multiply the total length by the number of lanes they have then they do make up a great proportion of roads). For all of modern human history we have strived to go faster (which is why we fly in jet aircraft rather than propeller aircraft and why we fly rather than take ships). In an urban setting it certainly makes sense for lower speed limits in areas with pedestrians and cyclists etc. In places without these (motorways etc) it makes sense to have higher speed limits (especially since cars are much more capable and are safer these days).

        5. Not true, divided A roads in the UK are 60mph, and divided B roads are 50mph. Most motorwaysin Japan are 80kph.

        6. actually Sailor Boy most of Japan’s 8000km of expressways are 100km/h. In the UK both motorways and dual-carriageways typically have 70mph (112km/h) limits, while lesser A and B roads have lower limits with 60mph being common on most A-roads.

        7. I’d like to see a citation there. All of the divided A roads I drove on 5 years ago were 60 or less.

        8. Japanese motorways were pretty much all 80kph signposted when I was there visiting. Frequently flouted by most motorists, but that was the posted limit.

        9. Bruce that’s a great veneer of rationalisation you’ve put on top of your reptilian brain desire to go faster. Please confirm my preconceptions by telling us more about your penis extension of a car

        10. Urban roads should never be 80 km/h unless they are, really, motorways already. We just simply totally disagreeing what traffic in a city should be like. Just because some distances across the city are large, and volumes are high, should NOT mean we need to increase speeds (and neither do the Scandinavians in these instances). This is still someone’s community you are racing through – and as Matt quoted above, mobility has NO RIGHT to be valued over somebody’s life (or somebody’s suburb, for that matter). And yes, that is exactly what our road design is doing at the moment.

        11. Streets in an urban area where it is safe to drive 80 km/h are rare. OK, maybe the likes of the South-eastern highway, but that is a limited access road. Generally on urban roads such high speeds are a big no-no.

          I guess it’s a difference in culture: In a lot of European countries it’s deemed acceptable to tell drivers to try not to kill anyone so please slow down, but here in NZ that’s still a bit taboo.

          The speed limit on European motorways is indeed around 130 km/h. There are a lot of reasons why that is not feasible in NZ:
          • You almost always have an auxiliary lane for some distance after an on-ramp, to allow safe high-speed merging. Over here there’s often just a few 10’s of metres for merging. This is especially bad on the Southern Motorway. At 130 km/h it’s simply impossible to merge at on-ramps.
          • Until recently we didn’t have any motorways in rural areas. In Europe motorways in urban areas often have lower speed limits, due to the greater number of ramps, busier traffic, and to reduce pollution.
          • Drivers here are generally not used to drive that quickly. A lot of people will not exceed 70 to 80 km/h. Some will merge at 60 km/h. In Europe you have a minimum speed of 70 km/h if conditions allow it, precisely because driving that slowly on a motorway between the high speed traffic is dangerous.

          Not turning enforcing speed limits in blatant revenue gathering is important—think lowering the speed limit on a rural road to 70 and then collecting fines, while tolerating people drive 80 through town centres because the lower traffic volume will mean a speed trap there will not achieve the quota. This kind of situations will render parents and driving schools permanently unable to explain the goal of speed limits.

          The “drivers focusing on their speedometer” is solved by a little bit of patience, and by requiring people to pass a driving test before handing them out a drivers license.

        12. Sweden – Speed limits are not based on the type of road, but on the quality and safety of the actual road itself. Speed limits may subsequently vary along the same road. It is therefore recommended to pay particular attention to road signs. The lowest speed limits, which may be varied by signs, for private vehicles without trailers. In built-up areas: 18 mph (30 km/h), outside built-up areas 43 mph (70 km/h), motorways 55 mph (90 km/h). Vehicles with trailers must never exceed 49mph (80 km/h). If in doubt, or if there is no speed limits indicated, drivers are advised to keep to 70km/h until you pass a speed limit sign.

        13. My understanding of a speed ‘limit’ is that this is the fastest speed you can safely* drive at in good conditions *The definition of safely is a difficult one as it is possible to have an accident and injure/kill someone at almost any speed. Thus setting an appropriate limit is difficult.
          However the point I would like to make is that once an appropriate limit has been determined it should be viewed as an upper limit and not a target. Thus if the limit is set at 50 then traffic should be flowing (in good conditions) at an average speed of 45. However on many roads this is currently closer to 55-60.
          A competent review of limits is needed on many roads and this should go hand-in-hand with a permanent zero tolerance for exceeding the new limits and driver re-education.
          The driver re-education is the most crucial in making it work. It needs to be understood by competent/educated drivers that if the limit is x then you should be driving at around 5km per hour less than x so that you have a buffer and don’t need t be constantly staring at your speedo. The idea of it being perfectly acceptable to casually exceed the limit by 5-10 k per hour needs to go.

          If there was a zero tolerance in place then there probably are well built roads where the limit could be raised. Otherwise I think it would be too dangerous as 110 km/h will become a defacto 120km/h and in bad conditions we could see more accidents and messier ones because of the higher speeds.

        14. Seriously, people who can’t drive at a set speed without constant reference to their speedo are clearly not competent/experienced enough to drive and should not be on the road.

        15. People already routinely drive at 60 km/h on our 4-lane main arterials with speed limits of 50km/h. No way the speed limit should be increased to 60 because then they will drive at 70.

    3. Your likelihood of dying when struck by a car drops dramatically within the 40-50km/hr range. According to the Ministry of Transport, over 50% of pedestrians struck at 50km/hr die, compared with “only” 30% who are struck at 40km/hr. Diminishing returns kick in at a certain point, so there’s probably not a case to reduce much beyond 30km/hr except in exceptional circumstances.

      NZ has a higher default residential speed limit than even the US. We let cars drive at 50km/hr on quiet residential streets where children might be out playing, but the US uses a default limit of 40km/hr (25mph) in many residential areas. (Of course, the US is doing a lot of other stuff horribly wrong.)

      1. The official docs still persist in using the wrong stats from older flawed studies; the actual percentages of fatality vs impact speed are now acknowledged as a lot lower (but they’re about right for % of severe injuries). Either way, the relative differences are significant; you double the risk of injury/fatality in going from 40k to 50k and the risk increase is about fivefold in going from 30k to 50k.

        1. Have a look at the graphic in the Cycle Safety Report under Safer Speeds; it’s based on some research that Hamish Mackie did for MoT. I’m not sure whether the work has been published in a separate format yet.

        2. Nice one – thanks Glen! The link to newer research is great as I’m planning on writing a post on the topic (and it would be good not to use wrong numbers).

    4. Actually you can “cotton wool” the world, as you so callously put it.

      So that when a vehicle leaves the road driven by a driver who is tired, or distracted, or who has had one too many drinks and has her two children in the back… she goes onto a surface that slows her down (such as a grass verge) before hitting a barrier that absorbs energy, while in a modern vehicle that takes the energy of the impact. Because she is on a road with a speed limit appropriate to those conditions, the energy is less. Not quite cotton wool, but a lot better than the alternatives.

      And yes, you need to support these interventions with policing. Speeds are coming down. Alcohol consumption by drivers has dropped massively. Very few people are not in seatbelts. But the rest of the system is not in place.

    5. This “obsession” with slowing traffic down is exactly BECAUSE people are human and make mistakes or bad judgements; you’re not going to change that in people overnight (indeed, ever). Likewise, we won’t be able to improve every single poorly designed road or intersection around the country overnight either.

      Calling for lower speeds doesn’t imply that they are the sole cause (or even a major cause) of many crashes; it reduces the likelihood of some crashes but more importantly reduces the outcomes of ALL crashes. That’s why I’ve been calling for Christchurch to start looking seriously at its urban speed limits ( And it seems that The Press at least agree that it’s a sensible approach –

        1. Oh, buzz off. As if Sweden, or Norway or Netherlands didn’t have cars.

          You’re the kind of person who is only worth “debating” with because your statements cannot be left unchallenged for third parties reading your stuff.

        2. “Sweden” has 120km/h and 110km/h speed limits on its motorways…
          “Norway” also has 110km/h speed limit for motorways.
          The above two countries also have significantly harsher winters than we do and get significant amounts of snow.
          Last but not least “Netherlands” has 130km/h speed limit on motorways. They actually increased this from 120km/h in 2012.
          So in all 3 examples you provided you are wrong when arguing for the previous post about slower speed when these 3 countries have faster limits than we do. So much for your “challenge”… This is a civilised blog so next time leave the insults behind thanks.

        3. Up until now NZ hasn’t had European style motorways of any significant length. When the Waikato expressway is completed it will be really the first stretch of road where a higher limit might be of value.

        4. The Northern motorway from Albany to Orewa has been open for more than a decade and is suitable (it then continues on to the tunnels which would also be suitable). The Southern motorway from Papakura onto the Waikato expressway to Mercer has also been open a decade and is suitable. The upper harbour motorway from Westgate to Schnapper Rock has been open nearly a decade and is suitable.
          There are probably other motorways around the country that are suitable in places.

        5. Not really long enough to justify it though. You would save maybe 1 minute max on any of those roads going from 100 to 110 assuming optimum conditions, other than the Waikato expressway with would be maybe 2 minutes. The Waikato Expressway section might be just long enough, but part of the issue heading south has always been going from a motorway environment to lower quality roads – increasing the speed limit only to have the road turn into a single carriageway isnt a good option. Once the Waikato Expressway is complete it would be worth looking at.

        6. Bruce, many people are already doing 105km/h along the northern motorway. Raising the limit to 110km/h would just make it a de facto 115km/h speed. And, other than in the middle of the night, traffic levels and allowing for passing trucks, slower vehicles etc, mean you won’t sustain 110 km/h all the way. So time savings are minimal.

        7. Bruce, you said “Sweden” has 120km/h and 110km/h speed limits on its motorways…
          ….So in all 3 examples you provided you are wrong when arguing for the previous post about slower speed when these 3 countries have faster limits than we do. …”
          Yes, they have faster motorway speeds, but they have much slower urban speeds as soon as there are vulnerable users around.
          Even in semi-rural areas like this typical image:
          You get- 30 km/hour limit through the villages, narrowed road by the pedestrian crossing, pedestrian crossing on the side road.

        8. Bruce, this is all about appropriate speeds in the right places. In the context of this post, comparing motorway speeds is completely irrelevant (but still important nonetheless).

  4. “There is no other area in society where we would consistently allow for so many people to be killed or injured and then do so little about it.” Unfortunately our track record on suicide deaths is worse than road deaths. Road toll came down a lot in the 2000s but suicide deaths have been static at ~500 for some years. A vision zero for both would be great.

  5. If 35 people had been shot by a gunman, or gone down in a plane crash, there would be no break in the 24 new cycle about it and every politician and expert would be working to prevent it happening again. Kill these people with traffic and we get bland-isms from the city’s traffic engineer in chief saying we just need to do more of they, the servants of traffic, have been doing for decades. Then consider that 35 is simply the number that’s up from last year; the total will be nearer to 10x that.

    What kills these people is the whole culture of auto-dependency. We must address the root cause. And in cities the tools to do so are available and ready. It simply takes a new policy of systematic systematic investment in alternatives to driving. To create a city and an economy with a balance of movement choices. I know this is the complete opposite of the priority since the 1950s, which is the only world almost all of us have known, so it may seem shockingly radical. Yet it isn’t.

    It is simply the realisation that we can choose life over death, place over vehicle speed, proximity over vehicle mobility, access over distance, community over dispersal.

    The worst thing about this carnage is the collective shoulder shrug. It’s obscene.

  6. Looking at the site on Google Earth, it appears there are traffic lights with cross signals 200m away from the St Lukes Rd/Taylors Rd intersection, so it’s not quite true to say “for people wanting to cross the road the only option is to wait for a gap in traffic then dash to the narrow median”. Vision Zero is a nice dream, but it’s only that – a dream. People have always had accidents when travelling, whether by foot, vehicle, boat or horse. And it seems to me that projects designed to make the road system safer often have the opposite effect – witness the increase in people stepping out in front of buses in Wellington after the road was narrowed and the speed limit lowered. We also have more cyclists on the road, which might be environmentally friendly but makes life more dangerous for pedestrians.

    1. A 400m detour is not a credible option, it would be like saying everyone driving to the city from the shore has to first drive to Greenlane and then turn atriums and come back.

      As for your last comment, since when have bikes on the road made it more dangerous for pedestrians. All the evidence says the opposite as more bikes it help calm drivers

    2. Pam I would invite you to take another look at it using street view – there’s no safe way to cross this road. It’s like having SH1 going through the neighbourhood, with passing lanes in both directions.

      I think AT needs to take urgent steps to make it safe. It can’t be left as it is.

    3. You’re a callous bs artist, Pam. You wouldn’t walk down the bottom of the hill to the lights at New North nor would you walk the other way to the lights at Morningside Drive to cross. You wouldn’t allow yourself to be put out like that so don’t sanctimoniously demand others do what you wouldn’t. I lived on Taylors Rd for nearly 30 years and crossed this road hundreds of times to get to school and elsewhere in the neighbourhood. There is nothing strange or unreasonable with wanting to cross the road at this point – hell, it is even encouraged with the two standing bays. Traffic is the problem whether it be wall-to-wall rush hour traffic, selfish speeding traffic, stupid inattentive traffic island straddling traffic. So do us a favour stop trying to pull the wool and focus on the real problem.

    4. So it’s fine to ask people to walk 400 metres out of their way to cross one road? Classic motorist’s viewpoint.

      Maybe you have some daily routine that involves using a car? Commute to work, drop kids off, convenience shopping or suchlike? Let me offer you a deal. Each day for the next month, before your get in the car, maybe feeling a bit pressed for time, please walk 200 metres up the road and 200 metres back. Do the same thing again when you return. Please make sure you’re wheeling a pram or carrying a few shopping bags or a school bag full of books. Then tell us again whether it’s fine that there are traffic lights ‘only’ 200 metres from Taylors Rd.

      A 500 metre stretch anywhere in the suburbs with no way of safely crossing the road is a disgrace. St Lukes/Taylors Rd is an obvious site for a zebra crossing.

    5. How arrogant – drivers do not accept detours for no reason, so why should pedestrians? Taylors Rd has 3 schools at one end of the road, 1 school and 1 kindergarten at the other end. You do NOT go out of your way to make a detour that involves 2 sets of lights, particularly in peak traffic where the phase is timed to be as long as possible to keep traffic flowing.

    6. “makes life more dangerous for pedestrians” – everywhere in the world where conditions have been made better for cycling and more people are cycling, the environment also becomes safer for pedestrians (and people in cars).

      The number of pedestrians injured by cyclists worldwide is very low and the number seriously injured is tiny, even in places like the Netherlands and Denmark.

      You should really do 5 mins research before writing such blatantly untrue statements.

  7. I don’t think you can design the stupidity out of people. Traffic lights for example are a perfectly safe design concept, but there will always be motorists and cyclists who feel they are above the law and will drive or ride through a red light. Until those people wise up, there’ll be no zero road toll.

    1. Well put Geoff. Reading this morning Herald has the example of a lady rear-ended by a driver on drugs. No amount of traffic lights would have prevented this. Many are killed doing twice the speed limit. Reducing the limit just means they will be killed doing 3 times the limit.

    2. The diifference in outcome with traffic signals however is whether a driver going through the intersection is doing 50-60km/h or 30-40km/h. If you have a lower speed environment you will lower the likelihood and severity of any crashes there. That’s why well-designed roundabouts generally have good safety records; the geometry forces everyone to slow down to go through them.

    3. You can do a lot of things with a light-controlled intersection.

      One km from the NZTA headquarters is NZ’s most dangerous urban intersection. It was designed by NZTA engineers just a decade ago, and has a number of design features that make it deadly. The NZTA’s response has been to blame drivers.

      The road is wide and motorway-like, and signals to drivers that the safe speed on this piece of road is high – 60-80km/h. This is because it is in fact a motorway entrance. (The section of motorway it joins has killed a lot of people recently too.) It’s not appropriate for a road that has another busy road going right through it. It doesn’t suit the urban topography of a residential, light-commercial, and walking/cycling/bus/car environment. It is also a few metres from a primary school. I will not be surprised when the next person is killed at this intersection. I will blame Geoff Dangerfield for their death.

  8. Thank you for raising this issue. It is especially tragic when children and young people are killed/seriously injured on the way to school.

    After the avoidable and tragic death of Robert Su on a Fanshawe St pedestrian crossing in June I made a call for Auckland to adopt Vision Zero

    Since then the Waitemata Local Board has been instrumental in getting a vision zero target included in a review of the City Centre Masterplan targets (close to being signed off). This could be an important first step to an Auckland Vision Zero but it will take wide spread community support (including acceptance that we all need to slow down) and for politicians/Auckland Transport/NZTA to be told it is a priority.

    1. Keep working on it. It’s not acceptable that we have a transport system that kills people.

      I think the key thing is to have an outspoken leadership for it. This can be made a bit easier by removing opposition to zero road deaths – the kind of people who pretend to be on side but keep finding ‘practical’ reasons to oppose it. I’m sure you can think of who these people are. Getting all candidates to pledge their support for Vision Zero would be a good way to do this. Perhaps this could be a project for Greater Auckland?

    2. And of course, the elderly, the mobility impaired and anyone who chooses to walk or cycle around our fair city. 99.9% of the city has been built to be of total convenience to those who get around by motor vehicles.

  9. Yeah and lets remember stupid drivers are not the only issue, some guy on a bike was at an pedestrian island yesterday and biked out in front of me whilst looking straight at me…? I don’t know how we will ever achieve zero when we have people like that roaming around… But yeah, all for getting the toll down and to zero if possible!

    Still irritates me that media make a big deal out of rail fatalities and treat road fatalities like a normality.

    1. That’s the beauty of slower speeds; even the inevitable idiots, be they on car, bike or foot, are more protected by the lower likelihood of impact and/or serious injury. As much as we wish other road users behaved better, most of us generally don’t want them hurt or killed either.

    2. Yeah, thanks for raising that. Within the last 10 years, there has NOT been a SINGLE pedestrian fatality in New Zealand caused by a cyclist (there was a single one 12 years ago in Hamilton – caused in big part by bad sightlines, i.e. infrastructure issues).

      So please, don’t – even in passing or by accident – put up straw men for why we can’t fix the HUNDREDS of people cars kill every *year*. We can. Others have done so, and they didn’t have to abandon car mobility for it.

      We have made cars reasonably safe (well, a lot safer than they used to be – but mainly for their occupants, not for people outside the car!). We need to be doing more to make drivers safe. We have done quite badly to make roads safe. And worse on safe speeds. It’s all one system, and on the infrastructure side and speed side we are badly lagging behind.

    1. The terrible and ironic thing is that NZTA *do* have a decent Vision Zero project. But it’s not in any serious way supported by their agency. If it was, we’d see a major program of work to do simple and cheap things like installing median barriers on our state highways, and fixing NZ’s most deadly intersections. This is not happening.

  10. I’m interested in the political rationale for not acting- I can’t think of any other than appealing to a bogan voter base or thinking that the economic efficiency cost would be such that 300 lives a year is an acceptable cost. If it’s the latter, opposition parties might like to try and get the Minister to be explicit about it. The argument is also tenuous, in that may European countries have much higher per capita GDP with much less reliance on cars traveling fast.
    One compromise I’d be willing to make: higher speeds on motorways for lower speeds everywhere else, or at least in urban areas. Maybe that’s a via media that would get widespread acceptance?

    1. I don’t think we should raise speed limits on urban motorways. For most users these are just high speed urban routes and as such they are driving as badly and as ‘distracted’ as they do on urban roads, just at higher speed. We seem to have a serious crash on the motorway network in Auckland every day at the moment.

    1. The safety solution needed to fix the route to Wellsford is much less expensive than the RONS “capacity solution” being proposed. Imagine how many more safety solutions could be implemented elsewhere around the country with the spare dollars…

      1. Imagine how many more safety solutions could be implemented elsewhere around the country with the spare dollars…

        And there ya go. The inevitable compromise.

        1. I didn’t talk about compromising on safety; I talked about compromising on mobility, i.e. always being able to get from A to B as quickly as possible. Quicker travel times are only one definition of economic productivity, yet seem to be the one that the politicians focus on.

        2. You’re suggesting that your ‘fixes’ will result in a road more safe than a separate, fully divided motorway with no side roads or driveways or any of the other hazards common on other rural roads? That it will result in a road of equal safety as, lets say, the stretch of motorway between Albany and Puhoi?

        3. False comparison. The argument is that instead of spending 1 billion to save, say, 5 lives per year on one mega-project, you could spend that 1 billion on 100 x 10 million projects, saving 30, or 50 lives.

          The maths are against big-budget projects – because really, the big budget projects, while safe within their limited confines, are not about safety. They are about capacity, and big ribbon-cuttings on large-scale grunty “think big” projects. The real safety improvements we need money for are often much more localised, smaller, less glamorous. The PM doesn’t tend to visit a 30 km/h residential zone unveiling, even though in the long run, it will save many more lives than a new motorway interchange.

        4. Tony, we all know that accidents along SH1 North don’t all happen between Puhoi and Warkworth. To focus on safety improvements over flow, for the same money – $1B – we could likely greatly reduce the incidence of road deaths all the way to Whangarei. But that’s not what the Puhoi-Warkworth motorway is about.

        5. You know that the old highway will still be there, still carry more cars than the motorway and still kill people right?

        6. Glen, yes you did.

          Max, What comparisons? But anyway, there’s the compromise right there.

          Bryce, I agree entirely. For the record,I don’t believe that project is a good use of money but a Target Zero policy implies a zero compromise situation. So even if safety is not the primary consideration for that motorway, safety is still a major benefit and therefore, under a zero target policy, it deserves support, right? In fact, under a zero target policy where safety is elevated to top priority, it’s possible its importance is even higher. Do you see what I mean?

          Sailor boy, no shit, probably not (if the old road from Orewa to Waiwera is any gauge, definitely not), not as many as it does now.

        7. “Sailor boy, no shit, probably not (if the old road from Orewa to Waiwera is any gauge, definitely not), not as many as it does now.”

          There is a 17min time difference between the old Orewa to Puhoi road and the toll road. You’d expect plenty of people to pay $2 for the timing saving.

          On the new route for people exiting at Warkworth there is no time difference between the old and new, and for the 6000 vehicles per day travelling further north a 3 min time saving. Plenty of people will be using the old road and will have to face the danger this road presents in its current state. And of course the council will get to look after this road once the new one is built. Maybe your North Rodney independence group will have succeeded by then and the rest of Auckland won’t have to pay for it.

        8. Well if it’s to be tolled as a single road no-ones leaving it unless they’re local residents.

          Ps, I’m not from North Rodney, but I do wish them the best of luck.

          Pps, prove the rest of Auckland are (or will be) paying for it.

          Ppps, again, I don’t support the building of this road, just trying to point out the contradiction.

        9. It’s not always about compromise or choice.

          For example, we could reduce the urban speed limit everywhere to 40kph, similar to the legal limit in USA. That would reduce fatalities at virtually nil cost. 4-way stop signs at residential intersections are also common in USA, and very effective in slowing through traffic. The cost of signs on poles again is minimal. And what do pedestrian crossings cost to install? They aren’t much more than a lick of paint and ideally some tarmac to lift them a bit.

          There’s plenty to do and we should be doing it from Monday morning, starting at any intersection close to a school. In fact I think that our Local Boards should be set up to do all of these and that none of these measures really require NZTA or AT expertise.

  11. This is a complex issue. Vision zero is nice a nice goal, but unachievable. Maybe people should review the NZ stats first from the MOT website before commenting here.

    Firstly, walking remains one of the safest modes of travel in NZ. Most people that die on the road are middle aged drivers and their passengers. The next biggest group is motorcyclists, then pedestrians (~20%), then cyclists way at the bottom. From what I can tell, 30% of fatal accidents involve alcohol as a primary factor, 30% also involve speed as a primary factor. On rural roads, speeding is the cause or one cause of 70% of fatal accidents. I agree with Max that speed is where we should be focusing on for safety, but there are other factors involved as well and rural areas are different. Drivers without a full license are far more likely to speed. Apparently 40% of the drunk drivers who died weren’t wearing seatbelts and 30% of fatal accidents where speed is involved people weren’t wearing seatbelts. Many more men die than women. Motorcyclist deaths are disproportionate. Rural driver deaths make up a disproportionate number of fatalities. Of pedestrian deaths, it is mainly drunk, young people (not of driving age), stepping out in front of a vehicle.

    So based on these statistics, how are planners and engineers are meant to achieve a zero road toll? Most these factors don’t necessarily have direct or effective engineering or planning solutions.

    Engineers are only a small part of the solution. As you say, politicians are one aspect as well, but ultimately it comes down to people themselves deciding that speeding is unacceptable, that texting while driving is unacceptable, that drinking and driving is unacceptable, that driving without a license is unacceptable, that driving without a seatbelt is unacceptable. We already have laws against these things, but people still do it. Unless people choose for themselves not to kill themselves through their choices, then Vision Zero will always remain a dream.

        1. Bet they have some pretty good roads though.

          But anyway, being committed to something isn’t the same a achieving it.

        2. BS.
          Design is a major factor, but prior to design is recognising human fallibility:
          “The other group that had trouble with Vision Zero was our friends, our expert friends. Because most of the people in the safety community had invested in the idea that safety work is about changing human behavior. Vision Zero says instead that people make mistakes, they have a certain tolerance for external violence, let’s create a system for the humans instead of trying to adjust the humans to the system.”

    1. Problems like texting while driving, lack of skill to stay on your lane in bends, etc. are often solved by buying a large SUV, so in case of an accident only the other guy dies.

      And I’m not kidding. “It’s safer” is a very common argument people use for choosing an SUV.

    2. “Firstly, walking remains one of the safest modes of travel in NZ. Most people that die on the road are middle aged drivers and their passengers. The next biggest group is motorcyclists, then pedestrians (~20%), then cyclists way at the bottom”

      You need to divide by usage – i.e. ped deaths per km of walking vs car deaths per km of driving. The raw % doesnt tell us anything about relative risk.

      1. I was quoting MOT on injuries per 100km travelled or some such ratio. Bus travel is safer than walking, but they are both safer than other modes. I wasn’t clear on separating actuals with relative comparisons.

        1. Yes per hour of travel makes more sense as in an hour a car can travel 100km while someone walking might cover 10km max but more likely 5km.

        2. Well I dont know if it makes more sense or not. When choosing to take a certain trip it is the distance that is fixed not the time. So the risk for me to get to the supermarket and back is what is relevant – much higher as a ped than in a car.

      2. Actually, by far the least risky way to travel on the road is as a bus passenger (or even better, get off the road and into a train). A car user can reduce his or her risk by about 90% by choosing to use public transport rather than a car.

        Apart from not travelling at all, I cam’t think of any other single decision that reduces risk by that much, so why is the use of public transport not being promoted as a very significant safety initiative?

  12. The debate on mountable versus unmountable kerbs is older than me. One view is to make islands appear dangerous and people will see them and avoid them. North Shore City built a lot like that on Glenfield Road. The other view is that everything you put in a road will get hit and should be built so it doesn’t result in death or injury. Some take the view “screw them they did wrong” but that isn’t the prevailing view. I opt for old fashioned semi mountables (the common concrete one you see with a slightly off-vertical face) which if you clip them at low speed you dont lose control but at high speed they dont become a ramp like fully mountable kerbs. Unmountable kerbs are about twice the height and probably like hitting a small wall. I removed a fully mountable from a bend on Glenfield Road years ago that was flipping cars when they hit it at speed. Its only purpose was to hold a keep left sign warning you the island was there.

    1. “I removed a fully mountable from a bend on Glenfield Road years ago that was flipping cars when they hit it at speed.”

      The proper solution to that problem is enforcing the speed limit, not making it safe for drivers to speed.

        1. Well strictly speaking the island was not maiming people. People who were driving at excessive speed were maiming themselves or other people.

          I’m curious where that island was. Glenfield road is quite windy, even if you wanted you wouldn’t be able to drive very fast there.

          Or maybe some people tried anyway and missed their corner. In that case, there is a magic wand called a speed trap.

        2. What part of “enforcing the speed limit” (by enforcement, or even better, by road design) is “magic” to you?

        3. Well surprising as it sounds the crashes all occurred at times when the Police were not there. They just didn’t have the resources to have anyone there 24/7. And as for letting people who are speeding crash, well that kind of misses the point. We are supposed to design so even idiots get home without killing themselves or others.

        4. Yes Sailor I kind of feel bad about it as judging by their comments I am trolling children. But it broke up my day nicely.

        5. You took out the island people were hitting at high speed? Great now they can drive even faster!

          I think I see now how vision zero works. It’s shameful how we’ve designed our roads.

        6. So what is the alternative? Install some big concrete obstacles in the road so people who are drunk or speeding all die? We try to make things obvious and forgiving of mistakes. But just as hunters will always shoot each other, road users will always stuff up sometimes. Vision zero is a vision not a reality.

        7. Narrow lanes, as already said. Low marked speeds limits. Enforcement of said speed limits. Tight curves at intersections. Medium-sized curves everywhere else on the main road. Frangible crash barriers where absolutely needed. A social and driving culture that enforces low levels of drunk driving. Speed tables at crossings. Intersections that are phased to reduce average speeds. Vegetation and development that provides visual side friction. There’s a whole science and hundreds of methods.

          Your “vision zero is just a vision” is like the OPPOSITE of the saying “a journey begins with a single step”. You are starting with the premise that we shouldn’t really try.

  13. One thing I would really like to see is a crack down on red-light running. The system with displaying an orange light first means that there is no excuse for not being able to stop for a red light. There needs to be an attitude adjustment for many drivers from viewing running a red light as a minor misdemeanour to something that is very dangerous with serious consequences. One of the reasons I pick on this is A) it is easy to police with cameras and B) it is strongly indicative of a poor attitude to following the road rules and slowing down when necessary. my hope is that forcing drivers to take this situation seriously they will hopefully be more alert and conscious about other areas of poor driving behaviour.

  14. Traffic safety could be vastly improved and congestion hugely reduced if they only gave drivers licenses to people who were competent and responsible enough to drive a motor vehicle. Unfortunately our whole urban environment has been made so motor vehicle dependant that they have to give licenses to pretty much everyone who asks irrespective of their skills or temperament.

    1. Maybe so, but even the “perfect” well-trained driver can make a mistake. Heck, I might even have made a couple over the years while driving… 🙂

  15. The idea of building a low, mountable concrete median strip in the middle of a busy road and calling it a ‘pedestrian refuge’ should be regarded as an absolutely unacceptable design standard. I look forward to the day when someone who is hit while standing in such a position sues the responsible authority for creating a ‘trap’ in the tort law sense – that is, encouraging people to do something dangerous by design, by negligently holding out that it’s safe.

    In Canberra such central refuges have a stout crosswise barrier facing the traffic and protecting pedestrians– for example see Red Hill, corner Monaro Crescent and Golden Grove (sorry, don’t know how to link to google maps).

    And if your traffic engineers think that the barrier itself is dangerous for traffic, it means they need to reduce the speed limit.

  16. The US is a dangerous place for pedestrians, where they comprise some 14 per cent of all motor vehicle related deaths. When crossing any road you should take extreme care and whenever possible cross at a pedestrian crossing or walkway, traffic lights, junction or other ‘safe’ place.

    It was explained to me that in the US all intersections are deemed to have a crosswalk.
    That the vehicle must yield to the pedestrian in the lane adjacent to it. Their liability laws are such that the injured pedestrian is likely to bankrupt the average driver if he doesn’t obey the law. In NZ we rely on the ACC to protect the driver of the vehicle from being responsible. Is there room for such an interpretation in NZ?
    I believe that ACC rules and no fault repair of injured parties is a factor in the irresponsible behavior of some drivers.
    Vision Zero is doing a good job please keep it up.
    The driver is responsible for his actions, intersections are a danger to all parties passing through them.

    1. Probably true.

      In California I developed a game of ‘cross the road behind the passing car’. On a reasonably quiet normal street I walk out preparing to cross the road behind a car that’s coming but in every case the car stops and waves me across. It’s bizarre as I thought drivers would be terrible.

      I did the same in NZ and every single car ignores me and I cross after the car has passed. Many even accelerate daring me to step into their path. Here pedestrians run from flush medians as cars come off roundabouts and accelerate towards them rushing to the next queue.

        1. exactly. People aren’t usually doing it to be courteous, they are doing it to avoid being sued!
          It is usually much easier to cross the road in NZ as drivers don’t freak out if you are standing in the middle of the road.

        2. In lots of countries people earn their living by making statements that are totally out of context, proportion, or human decency. They are called “straw men”.

      1. This may help explain the California drivers’ behaviour. From the State of California 2015 Vehicle Code General Provisions and Division 11, Rules of the Road… 21950. (a) The driver of a vehicle shall yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within any marked crosswalk or
        within any unmarked crosswalk at an intersection, except as otherwise provided in this chapter.
        (b) This section does not relieve a pedestrian from the duty of using due care for his or her safety. No pedestrian may suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a vehicle that is so close as to constitute an immediate hazard. No pedestrian may unnecessarily stop or delay traffic while in a marked or unmarked crosswalk.
        (c) The driver of a vehicle approaching a pedestrian within any marked or unmarked crosswalk shall exercise all due care and shall reduce the speed of the vehicle or take any other action relating to the operation of the vehicle as necessary to safeguard the safety of the pedestrian.
        (d) Subdivision (b) does not relieve a driver of a vehicle from the duty of exercising due care for the safety of any pedestrian within any marked crosswalk or within any unmarked crosswalk at an intersection.

  17. It’s definitely time for Vision Zero. The carnage on our roads is unacceptable and avoidable. It defies all logic that we would let this situation continue – as has been said, if this were happening in (almost) any other context there would be public outrage and urgent action.

    I like the Hippocratic Oath idea. The fact that roads continue to be designed and built to prioritise traffic flow over safety reflects a dereliction of duty by transport planners and engineers. As a medical professional I would expect to be struck off (at the very least) if I practised in a similar way – ignoring current evidence and international best practice, and creating transport environments that are designed to result in injury and death.

    However ultimately, Matt, you’re right – it’s the politicians who need to drive the Vision Zero agenda. And they need to be given the mandate by the public. It seems that we need to have more of an explicit values debate, e.g. which do people value more: (1) being able to drive from A to B more quickly or (2) not killing and injuring people on our roads? Personally I would accept huge compromises in (1) to achieve (2) – e.g. I’d quite happily spend twice as long in the car if it meant my kids were safe walking and cycling around the neighbourhood – but maybe that’s because I hardly ever drive. Others will be at different points on this continuum, but I’m sure the consensus would be far more towards the safety end of the spectrum than the current roading environment would suggest is the case.

    1. Pedestrians have right of way on crosswalks or pedestrians crossings in NZ too, and you are expected to stop if you see someone that is intending to cross. It is not acceptable to simply wait until they’re on the crossing. As such the law is the same in CH as in NZ.

      1. Pedestrians have right of way only when actually on a pedestrian crossing – the same doesn’t apply on a “crosswalk” because there’s no such thing in NZ.

  18. What was a little frustrating about some of yesterday’s drive-by media coverage was the way this stretch of road was described as “an intersection.” Yes, the roads technically intersect, but thanks to the concrete barrier, only in the manner of on-ramps and off-ramps for that motorway-like stretch of St Lukes Rd.

    The subtext of this piece of road design: “It’s WAY too dangerous for cars to cross here… oh, but pedestrians are welcome to take their chances.” I see two problems here: this unmarked, unsignalised, perfectly legal but horribly vulnerable crossing is on a major pedestrian desire line for several school populations. For that reason alone, it deserves an immediate safety upgrade.

    Beyond that, look at how the street design effectively bars locals from free and efficient passage through their neighbourhood. Picture yourself (kid or adult) on one part of Taylor’s Rd, planning to visit a friend on the other part of Taylor’s Rd, in car or on foot or on a bike. Paradoxically, walking is the most direct way to get there – and may actually be faster than any car or even bike trip, at any time of day – and yet, it’s so perilous because of that street design. Something’s terribly wrong with this picture…

    1. You may be right about the safety of the crossing for pedestrians, but I’m not sure about your implied subtext re the safety of cars. I suspect that it could also be a deliberate move to ban cars crossing so that they are less likely to use that local street as a rat-run. Which in turn makes it a safer route for walking and cycling along, due to less traffic. That’s the concept of neighbourhood greenways in the US (or Dutch ‘Fietsstraat’). It does rely however on (a) sufficient calming of any remaining motor vehicles, and (b) safe crossings of any busy roads along the way.

  19. Hello Bruce at 2:52
    The Autobahn has speed limits for Trucks, coaches and cars with trailer.
    You’re your comment “For all of modern human history we have strived to go faster”
    Reason for retiring the Concorde “They cited low passenger numbers” “There had been little commercial pressure to upgrade Concorde due to a lack of competing aircraft”

    1. Yes Peter it doesn’t make sense to have large heavy vehicles (or cars in an unstable state – ie with trailer) driving fast. No reason to penalise other cars for this.
      As for Concorde… low passenger numbers was not caused by people not wanting to travel fast. Low passenger numbers on Concorde was as a result of multiple factors: 1) Concorde burned around the same amount of fuel as a 747 (itself not the most efficient aircraft) while carrying about 1/3 the number of passengers. In other words it used 3x the amount of fuel per person making it expensive).
      2) Concorde was old (most aircraft across the Atlantic have 2 pilots, Concorde had 2 plus an engineer and often had another). It was expensive to maintain due to it’s age and lack of parts.
      3) Lack of parts… because only a handful of Concorde were made it didn’t have sufficient scale to be economic. Whilst it did make money over most of it’s life this was only due to BA and AF getting the aircraft cheaply and highly subsidised prices.
      4) Further to above, because of it’s small numbers other costs were high (crew training, support facilities etc). Typically an airline prefers to have at least a dozen of each aircraft type to make it economic in terms of scale. Concorde had 14 operational total (that’s 7 per airline).

      It is VERY expensive to develop new aircraft especially when they are much different from existing aircraft (767,787,777, A330, A340, A350 are all quite similar in most aspects) this is only multiplied when designing a supersonic aircraft. This is why there has been no replacement for Concorde (not to mention limited sales potential as it can’t fly supersonic over land due to sonic boom issues – effectively limiting it to Europe-USA East coast and USA west coast -Japan).
      There are still proposals out there to travel faster including HST (hypersonic) which would travel far higher and faster to avoid the sonic boom issue on the ground and would allow London to Sydney in around 2 hours for example (compared to 23 hours at present). Trains are also getting faster (especially in Europe but also China and there are maglev systems being developed. Elon Musk has created a proposal for a Hyperloop vacuum tube type system that would allow LA to San Fran in about 1 hour).

      1. Great comment Bruce, going back you original comment you (we all do this) use the word “we”
        “We have strived to go faster” we could also say “we” strive to be more efficient (big trucks), “we” strive to be wealthier”
        Will be great to have a shared good from this. But the reality may not be so.
        And under a “shared reasonability” model many people are forced to share an unequal risk for what is more than likely an unequal outcome.

  20. More speed cameras, including point point to point ones, not to make revenue but to act as a deterant.

    People speed and take risks because they know the chances of being caught are slim.

  21. Maybe Vision Zero isn’t so far off if the latest IPCC report is taken seriously, if we want our children and grandchildren to have half a decent life we need to remove inefficient carbon based transport systems especially long haul trucks and cars. we could then focus on rail and local transport from rail heads, no need for speed and all the highways could be left to return to nature.

        1. Vehicle type is important; the SUV is a sign of an arms-race. Ever bigger vehicles to move one person [usually] around shows that the whole system is inherently unsafe and lethal.

        2. a small SUV is not a small car. They are minimun 1.5 tons with a high centre of gravity, big tyres, undersized brakes and awful visibility.

        3. Sorry but you obviously have very little idea about the capabilities of these vehicles. These aren’t body on frame Explorers that are about to fall over.

        4. I thought their key capability is their ability to drive on harsh terrain off-road. Eg. you would need one to get around on a farm, where a normal car would just get stuck.

          They do have limitations too. On the road SUVs are overrepresented in roll-over accidents. In cities they have the wrong proportions. Stand in front of an SUV and note how high the bonnet is—higher than a small child. That means worse visibility for the driver, and it also makes them more deadly in collisions with pedestrians.

          Sometimes, when watching them fly by on the road, I think some of the people driving those SUVs are not really aware of these limitations.

        5. Even then, it’s not the size of an SUV that helps it get around offroad. It’s a locking diff, low-range gearbox, high clearance, four-wheel drive and lots of torque. If you don’t have the first two (which you generally only get in a Land Rover, Toyota Landcruiser, etc.), then you’ve just got a glorified, dangerous, minivan. You might as well buy a Subaru Outback station wagon, which at least probably won’t roll over, and won’t limit your visibility so much when you drive it on the road. Some “SUVs” don’t even have much clearance, in which case you might as well buy a 4WD Honda Oddysey minivan, or, hell, a Toyota Caldina.

          SUVs are mostly just a way to make minivans cooler. Unless they’re really designed for off-roading, which few are (unless it has “land” or “rover” or preferably both in the name, and costs a fortune, it probably isn’t.)

        6. mazda CX5 weighs 1.4 ton and as a 64% EuroNcap pedestrian rating, mazda 6 weighs 1.4ton and 66%. Almost no difference for the SUV

  22. Wikipedia tells us NZ is #38 on a list of road deaths with 7.4 per 100,000 people That’s twice the rate in Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Spain and UK. What are these countries doing that we aren’t?
    Representing Cycling Action Network (CAN), I attended a stakeholder workshop at Police HQ 2 weeks ago. We were asked to assess the relative importance of policing speed, distracted driving, impaired driving, vulnerable road users, anti-social driving, and use of restraints. Stakeholders included NZTA, MoT, AA, MoHealth, Education, Kiwirail, Road Transport Forum (truckers) and Worksafe. I’d sum it up as ‘business as usual’. There was no discusion of Vision Zero. The Safe System philosophy which guides land transport in NZ does not question the unlimited freedom to drive.
    If we are going to make progress towards Vision Zero we are going to have to disrupt BAU. Are we up for that?

    1. Thank you Patrick. BAU is not ok ad we need to show our presence as you did at that Police run event. That was a good move and I found that your stats were also interesting. Was the organisers quoting them or is that something that you have added here and that they are not aware of?

    2. Lord Maths I agree that the individual behaviour is a major factor in all accidents then how can we encourage individuals to behave more responsibly?
      Would the ACC taking care of accident victim responsibility be a factor. The fact that the US drivers are afraid they are going to lose their shirts if the behave irresponsibly a factor in the way the drive?

  23. Maybe you should use evidence instead of guesswork

    According to the MOT’s own data, <20% of all injury accidents are caused by speed

    Speed isn't the problem – intersection behaviour etc. are

    1. Maybe you should consider the consequences of accidents as well as the cause. Irrespective of cause, speed really IS the problem when consequences are considered. Close to 100% of all motor vehicle accidents could have been mitigated by a reduction in speed. As a general rule the severity of an accident is directly related to the kinetic energy that is dissipated, and that kinetic energy is proportional to the square of the speed. I’m sure you can manage to assimilate the mathematical implications.

    2. MFD beat me to it, but saying “<20% of all injury accidents are caused by speed" is wrong. NZTA's figures are on a page called "Factors contributing to crashes" – and the heading you're referring to is "too fast for the conditions" – which is not the same as "caused by speed"
      – look at the top three causes for injury accidents- Lost control, failed to give way and inattention (making up 72%) – although speed may not have "caused" the accident, all of them would result in much better outcomes if the vehicles involved were going slower.

  24. Readers might be interested to know that NZTA is currently rewriting the Speed Management Framework and the Speed Limit Setting Rules:

    Unfortunately NZTA’s material appears to be ‘business as usual’ as the fear is safer (lower) speed limits will curtail economic productivity. This approach violates the first principle of Vision Zero road safety: “Human life and health are paramount and take priority over mobility and other objectives of the road traffic system”. Furthermore, it overstates the ability of the posted speed limit to generate a high throughput of motor vehicles; which is typically more influenced by the intersections, traffic lights, traffic congestion, road works, crashes, slow moving vehicles, etc.

    The narrow objectives of the draft Speed Management Framework (ie: ‘balancing’ safety with economic productivity) fail to recognise the wider significant benefits of lower traffic speeds, such as:
    (a) attracting people to walk & cycle; as specifically sought by the recent Cycling Safety Panel’s recommendations
    (b) place making and liveability
    (c) reducing transport emissions (eg: CO2, noise, particulate matter and toxins)
    (d) enhancing network efficiency and providing more reliable travel times for motor vehicles users.

  25. Certainly, the core of achieving vision zero is lowering speeds in places where you can’t travel that fast safely. But I think it’s unrealistic to think that enforcement will ever make much of a difference, particularly in city driving where a cop or speed camera can’t hide particularly easily. But even in rural areas, there just aren’t enough cops to make much of a difference.

    What the government does at the moment is start with a road, decide how “urban” or “rural” the area is, then set a limit somewhere between 50 and 100 accordingly. I don’t think what’s written on those signs is particularly important – what matters is the design of the road. O’Neill Street in Ponsonby and the last couple of km of George Bolt Drive out to the airport both have a 50km/h speed limit. Yet no-one drives as fast as 40 in O’Neill Street, or as slow as 60 on George Bolt Drive.

    The better way to do things is start by deciding how fast a road or street should be, by its function and location, then design the road so motorists naturally travel at that speed. Design a motorway for 120, a city arterial for 50, and a residential street for 30 (tops). You don’t need to rely on enforcement. The perfect way to slow traffic down is to make the street narrower, but it’s generally too late to do that for an existing street. Still, there’s lots of other tactics, from narrow lanes, indented parking, kerb build-outs, trees close in, chicanes…

    The government’s made noises about raising the motorway speed limit to 110. I hope they do, along with a good look at the limit on other rural highways (most of which should be lowered to 80 or 90). But when it comes to city streets, it’s up to councils to redesign them. Just changing the number on the sign does nothing. Ponsonby Road’s 40km/h limit is a joke, precisely because no effort whatsoever was done to actually change the street.

  26. Take a new look at the south end of the proposed Redoubt Road Motorway, and the provision for pedestrians at the Alfriston School.

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