Since 2010, the NZTA have had 10-year road safety strategy called Safer Journeys. The Safer Journeys website describes it as:

Safer Journeys is the government’s strategy to guide improvements in road safety over the period 2010 to 2020. The strategy’s vision is a safe road system increasingly free of death and serious injury and introduces the Safe System approach to New Zealand.

The Safe System recognises that people make mistakes and are vulnerable in a crash. It reduces the price paid for a mistake so crashes don’t result in loss of life or limb. Mistakes are inevitable – deaths and serious injuries from road crashes are not.

Within the strategy there have been three action plans, the most recent being 2016-2020.

The third Action Plan will renew focus on areas of greatest risk and disproportionate harm, and present opportunities for the use of current and emerging technologies.

In particular, this Action Plan’s focus is to:

  • enable smart and safe choices on the road
  • make motorcycling safer
  • ensure roads and roadsides support safer travel
  • encourage safe vehicles.

The words sound nice but is it working in reality and are we doing enough to keep people safe? The stats suggest we have a long way to go.

In the 12 months to the end of Feb, 321 people lost their lives on roads in New Zealand. Of that 33 were pedestrians and six were people on bikes. While it’s down on 2010 when the Safer Journeys strategy was introduced, 375 people died that year, it is up considerably on early 2014 when we reached the lowest ever point of 249 people over a 12-month period. And this doesn’t even cover the numerous serious injuries that occur. Any other activity that caused as much death and injury as roads do would have been shut down long ago.

Currently 6.8 people for every 100,000 in the country will die on our roads and even at its lowest point it was 5.5. To put that in comparison, the road toll in Sweden last year was 263 but with a population of over 9.8 million, that gives them a rate of just 2.7 per 100,000 people. If New Zealand was achieving that same rate, around 200 fewer people would die on our roads every year.

Given the results of how we’ve been performing, we need to start to think about calling Safer Journeys a failed strategy. Sure, over the long term things have improved, but that mostly came from before mid-2011 and likely a hangover from previous work undertaken. Since that time the picture isn’t pretty.

If Safer Journeys is a failed strategy then we need to start thinking about replacing it, and we’ll have to in 2020 anyway. It’s a good thing we won’t have to look too hard to find a suitable replacement either as a better strategy already exists in the form of Vision Zero, an initiative that started in Sweden and has started spreading across the world.

At its core, Vision Zero is summarised as: No loss of life is acceptable. At face value, much of what discussed in Safer Journeys is broadly similar to Vision Zero but where they are different is in the tone of the language used. For example, compare that Vision Zero statement with the vision from Safer Journeys of “A safe road system increasingly free of death and serious injury“. It’s the difference “we must to do better” versus “we hope, maybe if we’re lucky to do better”.

It’s that requirement that we must do better, at all costs that is why Vision Zero is working in so many places. It, along with the key principles of Vision Zero provides the political and policy cover and encourage the transport industry do to better, even if it means slowing traffic down or removing road capacity.

One of the ways we can tell Safer Journeys is not working is the high number of crap designs that continue to be advanced by our transport agencies. Traffic flow and movement continue to be prioritised over safety and we hear many stories where key safety features are stripped out in order to save money or save a few seconds of inconvenience for drivers. One good recent example being the Mt Albert town centre changes where at the last minute, AT proposed to retain lightly used right turn lane at the expense of a safe, protected bike lane next to the train station. They even tried to sneak consultation through on it.

Kent posted a great video on the principles behind Vision Zero back in January.

One of the interesting developments with Vision Zero is that while it started in Sweden and initially spread to other countries, now many of the locations adopting it are individual cities, such as many of the large US cities (a list of them is on Wikipedia). Given the government and the NZTA are unlikely to suddenly come out and adopt it, perhaps Auckland should follow the lead of those US cities and adopt Vision Zero itself. In fact, this year would be the perfect opportunity to do so because the council is required to refresh the Auckland Plan, the 30 year vision for the region, and what better place to embed the idea than that.

So should Auckland adopt Vision Zero?

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  1. And here’s New York:

    ‘Traffic fatalities fell to 230 in 2016 — the lowest number ever and a 23% decline since Mayor de Blasio’s Vision Zero program began. Stats across the country, meanwhile, went in the opposite direction — with a 14% increase in traffic deaths over the same period, according to National Safety Council projections.’

    It is not enough for our agencies to claim ‘safety is our number one priority’, but then their actions belie that really its secondary to traffic flow and speed.

    Also why is it so hard to adopt what works elsewhere in the world? Do we really think we’re that special that we have to make our own, often half-arsed, version of everything?

  2. Safe roadsides?? Yeah right cheese cutters for kilometre after kilometre, ready to cut a motorcyclist in half, or anyone driving a small car for that matter. I can only summise the wore rope barriers are cheaper to construct. In places where there’s bridge supports etc there are armco barriers.

    1. Armco bounces cars back into traffic lanes, the ropes catch them. I’d be interested to see if the SAFER barriers from American oval racing can be implemented on some of our major highways.

      As for motorcyclists, a certain amount of inevitability is brought on by choosing a vehicle with literally no crash protection at all; cars under 20 years old have to meet minimal crash standards for a reason.

    2. I would much rather hit a wire rope barrier in my small car than a solid concrete barrier thanks!
      Also not sure which is worse for motorcyclists, is there any evidence that hitting a rope barrier is worse than hitting a solid wall of concrete?

        1. Sure bikies may have a nickname for them, doesn’t mean they are actually what they claim. I’m at a loss to see how impacting one of the rope barriers at speed is any worse than impacting a metal Armco “knife slicer” or a solid concrete “hammer smasher”.

          Cheap is good, cheap means you can put them on more kms of more roads and protect more people.

        2. I’ll try again. They are called cheese cutters, not because somebody thought that to be a cute name or a funny name or because they were bored. They were called that because of the end result with a body that hits them. The physics of a human body such as a limb hitting those cables at speed, even lower speeds means lots of direct pressure on a very very small area of body part from that small cable means they take limbs etc off. Run that body part along that cable and effects are even worse and hit the blade like rails supporting them and again very ugly results. Try and cut cheese with a brick and then with a knife to see what I mean and get back to me with the results!

          Cheap is cheap like anything you buy you get what you pay for. But who gives a fuck, as long as its not you eh?

        3. So how is that different from the edge of an Armco barrier, or indeed the edge of a concrete barrier?

          I’m not doubting that motorcyclists hitting barriers causes carnage, but I am doubting that rope barriers are fundamentally worse that other forms.

          Do you have any evidence of this? So far all the links people have posted show that these so called cheese cutters are no more dangerous that the other barrier types.

        4. I doubt that wire rope barriers are any worse than other barriers, I also doubt that wire rope barriers are worse than no barriers.

        5. the thing with concrete barriers is that they don’t have edges so you slide. Wire ropes have multiple edges everywhere and once you catch one you spin, you get caught up and you die. There must be a reason why only Kiwis use them and it’s not because Kiwis are smarter.

        6. …to extend your analogy further, try firing a block of cheese at a knife at 100km/h, and at a brick at 100km/h. The cheese is wasted in either case.

        7. Nick, riders are not thrown directly into a barrier i.e.head on because they are beside them. Rather they go sliding along it or in the case of wires go sliding through it bit by bit.

          But to help to out the reason they don’t put barriers across the lanes is because people would go head on into them! Crazy I know but true!

        8. I understand that, yes the will hit at an angle and slide along. Again though, is it different from hitting a metal armco barrier at an angle and sliding along that, or a concrete barrier?

      1. yes unfortunately a young man was cut in half a few years back by wire rope barriers just north of Takanini on ramp. Also have heard that they can cut small cars with fatal effect too

        1. From memory (and I believe it is pretty good) there have never been ‘cheese cutter’ wire barriers installed in the section of motorway north of the Takanini interchange, however they have and until recently were still installed from the Walter Strevens Dr bridge south to the foot of the Bombays.

          Don’t get me wrong, I do believe these are a dangerous design for a barrier but not as dangerous as no barrier at all and given they are relativity cheap they are far better than nothing.

        2. Yeah air fences are the ultimate, but I believe the best safety feature we have is the six inches above the neck line. Once we disengage the brain we live in a dangerous state. There’s instinctual riding and reflex action but the brain is what keeps us from getting to that point. Old age and luck has taught me that. Yep as to the location I’m not too clear now, but the death was as a result of cheese cutter, however tragic it’s a sad waste.

        3. Death was not due to the wire barriers, it was due to the rider coming coming off their bike at sufficient speed (and in the direction of barrier) to cause death. They might have survived the crash on a race with soft barriers and run off zones, but the motorway is not a race track despite some opinions to the contrary.

          I have clocked up a lot of km on motorbikes around Auckland over the years, and would rather have a wire barrier than none to protect against the most serious type of crash (head on’s). I do wonder though how drivers and riders manage to have serious accidents on motorways when the entire point of vastly expensive roads like motorways is to reduce the most common accident types (intersection and failure to take corners).

    3. There is no evidence wire barriers are more dangerous than solid concrete barriers. In fact given their elastic nature, they absorb a fair bit of the impact while keeping vehicles out of the oncoming lane.

      The allegations are made by a few notable cases where motorcyclists were decapitated or dismembered by colliding into them (msotly at high speed). However under the same parameters they would almost certainly have been killed colliding into a solid concrete barrier as well.

      1. Hmmmm interesting reading, I’m still not convinced but maybe it has a lot to do with the shock factor of decapitation vs head crsuhed in helmet etc. Drugs and Alcohol figuire all too readily. Also Aussies don’t seem to be able to handle corners too well. I think it’d be helpful to change language in some of these studies too. Motorcyclists don’t “drive” we ride, different mindset amd it means (to me anyway) that you need a lot of skill before you venture out into traffic and the open road. Mopeds and scooters in city limits in 50kph areas will teach newbies skills before they throw a leg over something powerful. City streets are no place to learn but experience is vital before you hit the motorway… though Auckland’s motorway seems to be a carpark most of the time 🙂

    4. Motorcyclists die because they ride like idiots.

      A few examples of things which strike me as bad ideas:
      – waiting behind the first couple of cars in the queue at a traffic light, and overtaking them right after a light turns green;
      – crossing the double yellow line in blind corners on rural highways;
      – weaving between heavy motorway traffic going at 90 km/h
      – riding way faster than other traffic

      So to reduce those deaths we can either enforce some traffic rules, or ban motorcycles.

      1. Well yes there are those riders, for sure, but there are some seriously incompetent drivers of cars/trucks and buses who are menaces on the road and by your reckoning share no blame for pulling out on motorbikes as happens regularly.

        The same diatribe could easily be leveled at cyclists but it would be equally wrong.

        1. You’ll find poor riders / drivers in any kind of vehicle, but for motorcyclists it’s the default — it’s unusual to see one who doesn’t ride like that.

        2. I don’t have the resources to generate citations unfortunately.

          If I spot a motorbike behind me on the motorway I know not to change lane. Or if I’m overtaking another car, I know to watch him because he might squeeze in between the last moment — if he came up much faster than me I just let him pass before actually going past that other car. It’s just too dangerous to do the usual manoeuvres if there’s any motorbike nearby.

          @nonsense good point about car drivers — they often don’t pay with their own life when being idiots. People who text and drive should be stripped of privilege of driving a car.

      2. I used to ride a motorbike. I didn’t ride like an idiot and I never crashed it or fell off. But I was nearly cleaned out by other drivers a few times. I doesn’t matter how safe you ride, you are still at the mercy of other idiots on the road. I would like a motorbike again but I won’t buy one simply because I know I haven’t got the reactions I had when I was 20.

      3. Correct. Speed limiters should be installed on every motorcycle greater than 50cc’s – they would save many lives.

      4. As somebody who rides a bike (motorbike or bicycle) in Auckland most days…

        – waiting behind the first couple of cars in the queue at a traffic light, and overtaking them right after a light turns green;
        Yes, filtering through stopped traffic is legal, safe and if there is room I will generally pull up to behind the first car or two at the lights.
        I could pull up to be first away at the lights (and do on motorway on-ramps) but won’t do this at cross-intersections as there is no protection against cars/trucks running red lights at speed. Hence I let the car go first and/or look before trusting the green light.
        Overtaking.. sometimes, maybe if safe to do so, passing on the right, in particular if the car truck is accelerating slowly. Again legal and safe.

        – crossing the double yellow line in blind corners on rural highways;
        Sure there are bikers who do this; but they are the ones that make up the horrible accident stats as if they clip an oncoming vehicle; they die.
        These sorts of rural highway crashes are much more likely to be fatal but most motorcycle accidents are still more likely to be similar to car accidents – at intersections in cities.

        – weaving between heavy motorway traffic going at 90 km/h
        Dangerous for sure at that speed, but some evidence suggests that on motorways, lane splitting might be as safe or safer than sitting in traffic (due to the amount of nose-to-tails).
        So I do lane split until about 20-30km/h, then tend to sit in traffic as it speeds up, though still position the bike so I can move lane if when need be.

        – riding way faster than other traffic
        Ok, some riders certainly ride too fast, but in recent years the most popular bikes around the city are small capacity bikes like the classic 50cc scooters or GN125’s. Complaints about vehicle speeds tend to focus on big sports bikes and some of the HD crowd, but I suspect riders of bicycles, e-bikes and small motorbikes fear being crushed by aggressive car/truck owners driving too close/too fast than other traffic have to fear from fast motorbikes.

      5. Yep agreed I filter through traffic at a reasonable speed and it’s safer to be at the front at the lights than sitting in the queue waiting to get rear ended. Yellow lines = death :/ simple

  3. This one is a yes of course! A great iniative and would work well with downgrading car access. I have been amusing myself gently writing to ministers in support of vision zero. Will add mr goff to the list 😎

  4. The #1 focus has to be a reduced focus on speed and an increased focus on poor driving. I.e. the police need to have quotas for failing to indicate, failing to give way, red light running etc, and those quotas have to be proportional to those given for speeding

    1. Speed is the #1 factor in likelihood and severity of crashes. The one factor common in essentially all serious incidents!

      Trying to manage road safety without focusing heavily on speed is like the Americans trying to improve their violence problem while ignoring the proliferation of guns everywhere.

      1. Severity NOT likelihood. Speed doesn’t cause crashes, it makes them worse, but the actual cause is always breaking the law (failing to give way etc). S

        Risk management: probability x consequences. Sprinklers help, sure, but it’s better to stop the fire in the first place. Let’s focus on causes: terrible driving

        1. To give an example: Young children don’t have the ability to estimate how far away a moving car is. You can try to teach them all day, their brain just hasn’t developed enough yet. If someone crosses the street unexpectedly, at 30 km/h you have a better chance of stopping in time (less likelihood) than at 50. And you can whine about traffic rules all day, children have every right to be on the street even if they’re unable to gauge the speed of far away fast moving cars.

          Of course the most basic example of an accident due to excessive speed is going too fast into a bend and missing it. Very bad karma if you do this in a left turn and cross the centre line.

        2. The cause is human behaviour, people make misteaks.
          Focus on repeatable and proven good outcomes.
          Traffic deaths peaked in the western world around the year 1970, Finland focused on safer speed and started reducing city speeds in the late 1980s, by 1992 it had halved traffic death [1970=1,055][1992=484] they are now ¾ on the way to zero [2016=258]

          Here in New Zealand over two decades later we are only just got to half way to zero [1970=655][2016=328] and still have people saying we need to focus on cause, even when many other country have repeatedly proven safe speeds improves outcome by at least 20%

    2. Despite being touted as one of the four pillars of this strategy (Safer roads/roadsides, users, vehicles, speeds), speed is the one area where virtually NOTHING has been done to date in this strategy, aside from the traditional police enforcement. Only now has the Speed Management Guide come out (and it has a lot of technical and philosophical faults) and it’s still incredibly hard for RCAs to introduce speed limits below the usual 100/50k ones. Look at those top-performing safety countries; they make huge use of lower speed limits (and traffic calming where necessary) for the majority of their roads.

      We know what happened when the rural speed limit went down in the 70s; the road toll immediately dropped. And we know what happened when it was raised again in the 80s; the road toll immediately jumped. Time to learn the lessons from the past when looking at managing our road network speeds – see

    3. The issue I see with speeding tickets/cameras etc. is they only discourage people from breaking the speed limit, but this doesn’t necessarily translate into slowing down well below the speed limit when the conditions require it.
      Doing 105 on a straight stretch of road on a clear dry day is probably a lot less dangerous than doing 98 on a wet night, however, while plenty of people may get ticketed in the former, I don’t know if anyone has ever received a ticket in the latter example?
      If we are serious about prioritizing safety over travel/time convenience then the open road speed should be lowered to 80 everywhere! except for the small number of roads that are built to a high enough standard to justify 100 such as expressways, motorways, places where there is a median barrier etc.

  5. Its well documented in the media recently albeit I think its only the tip of the iceberg but a funding row between NZTA and the police means there is to be, if not already, a huge reduction in enforcing traffic rules by police. As it is at the moment who would know it is illegal to drive whilst using a phone, or indicate a lane change, or stop at a red light or anything?

    So the laissez-faire rule adherence that typifies New Zealand driving will surely only get worse as a result of this cost cutting.

  6. This may be something that the self-driving cars help. Traffic and congestion – No … Lives saved – Yes?

    1. Maybe, but it’s been a few years now that AVs have been “just around the corner, Google will sort it” and yet nope. Even if the come it will take decades for them to spread especially in NZ. Road safety can’t wait for that.

  7. its too easy to obtain a drivers licence. people operating a 1.5 tonne piece of machinery at 100km/h plus without sufficient training.

    1. I think first time fail rates are around 50 % these days, it’s a lot harder to get one than it used to be, but yes for something that is quite a specific skill we do let pretty much anyone do it.

      1. Also letting people keep driving indefinitely, an elderly driver has already tried to go the wrong way down the newly opened kapiti expressway for instance. If he cant read the road signs then perhaps its time to stop operating the machinery.

  8. the most frustrating thing about Safer Journeys is its narrow focus.

    There is a whole workstream about encouraging safer vehicles, which NZTA and ACC have interpreted as “how can we financially punish people who can’t afford (or don’t want to buy) brand new 5-star safety cars”. They also think $20-25,000 counts as an ‘affordable’ car, which is a different issue. When asked what was being done to encourage PT use, because buses and trains are *way* safer than cars, they said it was “out of scope”.

    No-one has been killed riding a train legally (i.e. not train hopping) since 2002. In the same period more than 4500 kiwis have been killed on our roads.

    Cycling safety has also been spun off into its own “Cycle Safety Action Plan”, and I’m not aware of any specific walking safety plans in Safer Journeys.

    1. I’m not sure I agree with you that it necessarily punishes people who can’t afford new cars. If anything it has driven down the price of older cars relative to newer cars a bit to compensate, meaning the person who loses out is the one who buys a newer car and gets less for it when they sell it. Of course this is counter balanced by paying a lower registration over the time they have owned it.

  9. As a safety auditor, my experience is that my comments on designs often get discussed away, because resolving them would cost money, or inconvenience cars. There is no ***priority*** for safety in our current system. It’s just one of many inputs.

  10. @Max… Max Max Max, you’ve been drinking too much of the governments kool-aid! There are a few things to consider here:
    1) Yes in terms of physics higher speed means greater severity in an accident (especially for pedestrian vs car or in head-on crashes).
    Speed in itself however is only a small factor in the causes of most accidents (almost all fatalities in NZ occur below 100km/h from memory the figure is around 90%). Bad driving, poor road design, old unsafe vehicles, not wearing seat belts, drink/drug/tired driving, etc are bigger factors.
    So the question then is why the government focus on speed?
    The answer is that it is a huge source of revenue for the government. It is much easier to police speed than it is to police inconsiderate driving or general dangerous driving (you can’t have a speed camera for those things).
    The focus on speed by the police over the past few years is evident in the increase in the death toll on our roads. Ever since they have made this huge focus on speed the number of accidents and fatalities has been increasing (despite improved cars, better roads). The reason? If a driver is focusing on their speed trying to keep it to an arbitrary number like 100km/h then so much more of their focus is on their speedometer and trying to maintain that speed as opposed to a non-punitive environment (like most countries overseas with lower road tolls) where drivers spend their time concentrating on the road around them and just drive at a comfortable speed (as an example in the UK or EU most places there the police aren’t concerned with you driving around 10-15km/h over the limit on the highways so long as you are driving safely – and that is ontop of their already faster speed limits which are around 110-130km/h). Drivers are too afraid to overtake at a faster speed in NZ because of the punitive approach to speeding when it is far safer to overtake at a faster speed to minimise the TED (time exposed to danger). Passing a car that has been doing 80km/h for the past 20 minutes who then speeds up to 100km/h on the only decent straight at 104km/h takes 45 seconds and covers 1.3km. The same passing manoeuvre done at 110km/h takes 18 seconds and covers 0.55km a difference of 750m! So where do you find police hiding? Majority of the time they are to be found at the end of a passing lane or end of a straight (that is when they aren’t hiding on an on-ramp for that most dangerous piece of road – the motorway!).

    @Sailorboy – you must have your head in the sand if you think that only a small minority of motorbike riders do so in a safe manner! Every single day I see countless motorbikes weaving in an out of traffic, excessively speeding, or riding in some other dangerous manner! Sure drivers do the same but is every 2nd or 3rd car driver doing those things? I doubt it!

    1. Every 2nd or 3rd motorist is either speeding or on their phone.

      Also, not sure if it is deliberate or accidental, but your conflation of inappropriate speed and speeding is a big part of the problem in NZ. People seem to think that travelling at 100km/h is fine regardless of conditions on any rural road. That clearly isn’t true.

    2. I share some of your cynicism regarding our current approach to policing road safety, I think it is a blunt approach to a complex problem. In saying that I do disagree with you on a couple of things:

      If you are still doing 110kmh plus at the end of a passing lane or the end of a straight then you should get a ticket, it’s dangerous if you haven’t slowed down again by then.

      I don’t buy the watching the speedo thing, if you have been driving for long enough you should be able to judge your relative speed reasonably easily. Having a known tolerance of 109kmh or 104kmh is not a good idea, it seems to give people the idea they can do 108kmh legally (still checking their speedo regularly of course to make sure they haven’t snuck up to 110kmh!), anything above the speed limit should come with the risk of a ticket.

    3. I wouldn’t go as far as saying that enforcing speed limits can cause accidents. It’s at worst bad PR, depending on where exactly the speed limits are enforced.

      My impression of Germany for instance is that they have both a low traffic fatality rate, and a low tolerance for speeding. There are a few stretches of Autobahn without speed limits, but if the overhead signs say 60 km/h then most people will drive 60, and not 65.

    4. I am a professional transport engineer, and I also work in the road safety space. This is research from all over the world, as well as simple physics and human anatomy (maximum survivable physical impacts). Speed kills. No other factor comes close. End of my discussion with u.

      Don’t speed, don’t pay the voluntary tax [Though if it was up to me, speedsters would both be fined AND get a lot more demerit points].

      1. I completely agree, however I think our current approach to speed enforcement is very blunt and given it is funded out of precious fuel taxes it deserves some scrutiny. In saying that no one has anyone to blame but themselves if they are caught speeding, it is completely avoidable.

    5. I have difficulty with the argument that motorists are too busy struggling to comply with a 1kmh/4kmh/whatever speed tolerance when driving and crash as a result. If say the tolerance was 10kmh wouldn’t they still be focused on making sure that they didn’t go over 109kmh?

      Still, let me indulge your theory for a moment. There’s a simple solution: Go back to higher tolerances but introduce LOWER SPEED LIMITS…

        1. “These data indicate that the benefits of reduced speeding with stricter enforcement may be at least partially offset by greater mental demands on drivers,”

          The authors of your report don’t agree with you that lower tolerances are less safe.

        2. Little practical difference in the findings, e.g. between 1kmh and 11kmh thresholds, the difference in average reaction times for spotting a peripheral target was .03 sec and the difference in peripheral targets missed was 3%. Perhaps more significantly, the mean speed driven fell by over 4km/h with a reduced tolerance – which typically translates to about a 11% reduction in crashes and a 25% reduction in fatalities at the urban speeds tested.

      1. I think problem with people’s reaction to zero tolerances is that people see the speed limit as a target. So if you enforce a zero tolerance then they will try and do 100 without ever doing 101, which would require you to closely monitor your speed. If you instead drove at around 95-99 (when conditions allow) giving your self a margin then it wouldn’t be a problem. However my understanding of the rationale behind a zero tolerance is so that the police can issue a ticket to someone doing 101 when the conditions warrant a much slower speed.

        I think lowering the speed limit on most of our state highways and probably all of our rural roads is needed, immediately. Those sections of national and state highways built to a high enough standard can retain 100.

        1. I’m not surprised your cynical. It’s pretty much my reaction to anything you claim as evidence too.

          But it seems pretty clear cut. The more you concentrate on one thing the less you can concentrate on another.

        2. There’s no meaningful difference.

          Belgium used to have a 10 km/h “tolerance”. What then happens is: with a 50 km/h speed limit, the target becomes 60 km/h, and you’ll have people watching their speed in exactly the same way. Every possible arrangement with limits and tolerances and whatever has a set speed where the fines start, and the target will be just below that speed, and people will be “watching their dashboard” (or not) to stay at exactly that target.

          What can be done is making the fines gradual. i.e. if you are 1 km/h over the limit there will only be a low fine, so a small slip is not unduly punished. Which is exactly how it’s done over here:

        3. There’s no meaningful difference in behaviour. In either case there’s a limit. In either case the problem is that drivers want to drive just below that limit. If anything you should compare 50 km/h with a 10 km/h tolerance versus 60 km/h without tolerance, which in practice both mean a 60 km/h limit.

          That study, well, I’ve no idea how it was set up, and the details of how that limit + tolerance was framed. But my guess is that it’s measuring the effects of more or less pressure to stay as close to the limit as possible.

    6. Ah, the slow drivers cause accidents trope. Most NZ roads except the big motorways were designed for 65 to 80 km/h traffic and haven’t been upgraded. Is it possible that the “slow” drivers are driving correctly to conditions?

  11. Phil Goff and the council should have put Vision Zero in the Letter Of Expectation to Auckland Transport – what a missed opportunity. Although, does anyone know if council can just reissue a new LOE?. It needs to be spelled out to AT that safety needs to be paramount in all designs. Would like to see it included in future LOEs and the Auckland Plan.

  12. How about a more meaningful graph? Like maybe per capita over the last 100 years. Oh wait, you did that already:

    The road toll has been in decline over decades for many various reasons. This graph for the last few years is not wrong, but it misses the complete picture with growth in population(+8.5%), growth in vehicle numbers(+16%) over that time and also doesn’t look into the detail behind the causes of fatalities. I’m not saying we shouldn’t do more, but you can’t judge a strategy by that graph. If we had 400 deaths 10 years ago and 320 deaths last year thats a 20% decline. With +8.5% population growth our road deaths per capita is 6.9 per 100,000 compared with 9.4 10 years ago. That’s a 27% improvement. Sure it could be better, but you can’t argue the strategy is failed, maybe just not the best one.

    You can never fully compensate in a road design for people purposely being stupid. Sure, our road safety spend is only a fraction of the social costs of accidents and maybe other countries spend a lot more than we choose to do, but we also heading to a point of diminishing returns in terms of engineering answers. It is a social problem with speeding, drinking, driving without a license etc

    You want to improve the road toll? Ban male drivers who are ever caught speeding/drinking/driving without a license because they cause 28% of fatals.
    Except banning them doesn’t stop them from getting behind a wheel and our prisons are already overflowing. Vision Zero is a failed strategy from the start because you will never get zero road deaths. Why replace a “failed” strategy with another” failed” strategy?

    I disagree that the current strategy has failed. We are following a very similar path to Holland, except we are still years behind them and aren’t catching up. We just don’t go far enough with it and aren’t as committed to it as we should be. Reducing speed limits is the easiest place to start.

    1. I do tend to agree with Ari’s comments that:
      1) we’re heading in right direction albeit too slowly. I can say fairly confidently that in my life-time I’ve seen big improvements in driver safety in NZ; and
      2) we can’t rely solely on engineering answers.

      I also completely agree with you on reducing speed limits. Most of the streets around where I live in Amsterdam are 30 km/hr limit. Only the main roads (normally spaced at 1km blocks) are faster. It’s perfecty flat and you can see for miles — they just don’t design residential streets that encourage fast speeds. Most are too narrow to pass another vehicle without slowing right down, for example. In NZ that wouldn’t pass the techno-balderdash AustRoads standard.

      1. We have a looong way to go until that becomes normal practice over here.

        To the question if Queen Street in Northcote Point should become 30 km/h, AT said no, because:

        AT generally prefers physical measures to reduce vehicle speeds as they are self-enforcing, i.e. they don’t require extra resources to enforce. Minor local roads with lower than 50 km/h speeds are also unlikely to be a priority for the police, making self-enforcing designs more feasible.

        I swear I’m not making this up.

  13. New York City has special issues because pedestrians are its biggest group:
    “Pedestrian deaths, which accounted for the largest share of fatalities, increased last year to 144, from 139 in 2015. Cyclist deaths rose last year to 18, from 14 in 2015.
    NZ has something like 25 pedestrian deaths

    Doesnt sound like Vision Zero has anything over other strategy’s and isnt producing real change. Car deaths reduction can be put down to better car safety and better and more timely hospital treatment with road improvements playing their part.

    1. It seems we can see the fall in pedestrian deaths from 183 in 2013 to 139 in 2015 was because the 2013 number was a peak.

      “That’s also down from what the DOT says were 183 pedestrian crash deaths in 2013, a decade high,”

  14. Road controlling authorities in NZ appear to have a dual mandate (not sure where from) for efficiency and safety. Putting efficiency and safety at the same level of priority is at odds with norms elsewhere in our society and potentially illegal based on the new health and safety act. This needs to chanfe so safety is prioritised.

    Of relevance was the court of appeal desicion on the Wellington runway extension. They said that cost is not a reason to not make something safer, it is of secondary importance. At some point a test case needs to be brought against an RCA.

    1. Airlines and railways are certainly not allowed any such free pass to keep up a structural level of killing citizens like the road system is…. why the inconsistency? If either of those systems killed even half that number in one year, there would enquiries, shutdowns, and huge changes.

      And Jimbo, getting towards a goal is with doing isn’t it? If we achieved Sweden’s rate there would be 200 un-killed extra kiwis every year? Which other government funded sector wouldn’t try to achieve that?

      1. It would help if you supported roading infrastructure improvements which would reduce crashes and deaths.

        Yet from my observation you are against any and every roading improvement project suggested.

        As an influential member of the transport community it may an idea to take a look in the mirror as to who is standing in the way of death reduction.

      2. There’s a fundamental difference between road transport and rail/air. It’s a question of accountability. A significant proportion of road trips are by individuals in their own vehicle versus virtually none in air and none via rail. Therefore with rail/air there’s someone (or company) to be held accountable for crashes / deaths, much less so with road transport. ACC probably figures in there somewhere too.

        1. Public access etc is not an excuse in other areas. A mall owner wouldnt be excused for a lack of barrier that resulted in someone falling to their death just because private individuals are involved.

        2. It’s not a question of access, it’s of ownership. Mall shoppers and rail/air passengers don’t own the structure or vehicle they are shopping or travelling in vs private road vehicles.

    2. The Government makes us assess projects using a policy manual that requires that trade off. It gives a value for lives lost or saved, serious injuries avoided etc. It specifies a value of people’s time. So that is what we do to get funding. If they wrote a policy document that said ‘spend any amount you want to avoid crashes’ we would do that.

        1. Except for the minor difference that with airlines and railways you pay them to carry you. Roads are provided as a public good and drivers are responsible for how they choose to use it. That personal responsibility thing, I know the control freaks of this world struggle with the idea.

        2. @mfwic: That “personal responsibility” argument is a crock. Fine, if you’re the only one who stands to get damaged by choosing to put yourself at risk, but on the roads the risks you take often affect many more people than just sweet-little you. Leaving the safety of innocent 3rd parties up to the “personal responsibility” of every Tom, Dick and Harry driver is totally insane. Road transport should be ruled with an iron rod, just as airlines and railways are. If you crave personal risk then go and do some extreme sport that won’t affect anyone else.

        3. Yes but probably not for the reason you think.

          If you’re driving on some state highway, and someone coming from the other side crosses the centre line and hits you head-on, you’re dead. And you have exactly zero control over that.

      1. Yes. My thinking is the Government’s brief is illegal when compared to the requirements of the health and safety act. The practical outcome (at least based on my experience of current practice in industries where an ALARP approach is used) is that the value of life you would use would be multiplied by 10.

        1. Except that for most people a road is not a workplace. When it becomes a work place they use safety barriers to comply with that Act. I don’t get this health and safety thing where some people seem to want to give it some sort of constitutional super law status.

        2. Its not a super law. The goveenment has to follow ordinary laws, not just special ones. Government policy is not law, law is made by parliament.

          The Act defines a workplace. If a workplace is sometimes actively occupied by workers and sometimes occupied by the oublic, it is still a workplace and the responsibilities still apply at all times. Roads are very frequently occupied by workers (professional drivers) and we dont put up special barriers every time a professional driver comes along.

        3. Well if you are so sure Matthew W you should try it in court. Either you will be wrong and you will lose or you will be right and the government will change the law and you will lose. To be a workplace it has to occupied by your workers or someone you are actually responsible for. A road is not somewhere you, me or the government is responsible for people if they drive like an idiot. The whole Vision Zero thing is just the latest in a long line of bollocks people promote from time to time. We could adopt it tomorrow and the road toll would stay the same as it is under safe journeys. The only thing that would make a difference is spending more money and let’s be honest you can do that whether or not you copy some nonsense title off the Swedes.

        4. The test is about whether it is reasonably practicable to do something or not. Is fencing off the road networks so idiots cant access it reasonably practicable? I dont think so. Is lowering speed limits, putting in traffic calming, separated cycle facilities reasonably practicable? Well, yes because in some places we already do it.

          The law is explicit that it is not just about your own workers or subbies now. A building owner that leases commercially is responsible under the act for employees that occupy its building as well as their visitors even though they are not employees of the building owner.

          So there isnt some obvious reason for not following the law.

        5. Yes but you clearly don’t understand the ‘rule of law’ concept. It means they claim the laws apply equally to everyone when in fact they only apply to us. If the government gets caught out they just change what the law says.

        6. Sure thats possible (and agree with your cynicism) but with our parliamentary system its not a given. The H and S Act had very broad support post Pike River and any government needs support partners to get laws changed. Im sure the MOT would like a few tweaks to the RMA post Basin Reserve Flyover, but its not that simple.

        7. Apples and oranges. Driving on the road is completely different from paying someone for transport from one place to another. A taxi service might come close but that’s about it.

    1. JimboJones
      Please check
      Finland – 2016 Zero Traffic Deaths in Espoo which is 2nd largest city in Finland. Population 269,802 with density of 866/km2 – see my comment 10:28

      Norway – end of 2015
      No Norway kids have died in traffic this year
      In 1970, nearly 100 hundred children died on Norwegian roadways

      Sweden – Stockholm is poised to make it through 2016 without a single pedestrian or cyclist dying.
      As of Dec. 7, no one walking or on a bike had died commuting in the city’s streets. A cyclist hasn’t died from a collision in Stockholm since 2011. Since 2006, pedestrian and cyclist fatalities in Stockholm, the country’s capital, have remained at a relatively constant low, ranging from zero to 10 a year each, usually on the lower end of that range.

      1. I feel compelled to point out the obvious as well: Finland, Norway, and Sweden are all countries with cold and dark climates, which frequently experience snow/ice. I’ve lived in Sweden for over a year, and visited Norway many times. I can say that in my experience the driving conditions are much more challenging than anything I’ve encountered in NZ. So based on my anecdata I would say that what they’ve achieved is laudable, and seemingly replicable in NZ.

        1. Yes the driving conditions of those Scandinavian countries, with snow and ice, is something I thought about too. Imagine how much worse our too would be with those conditions

    2. The beauty of Vision Zero is that you can always break it down into more manageable chunks. Zero deaths unachievable in a country that currently has over 300? OK, well how many fatalities should occur in a small city that maybe only averages a few a year? Or one suburb of Auckland? The number of cycle fatalities at present is in single digits – why not zero of them? Now you can start to have useful conversations about how to get the crash and casualty numbers down because zero is suddenly not that far away.

      1. Great explanation Glen. It makes things sound more plausible/manageable when you approach it from that perspective. Breaking things down into smaller areas or segments .

      2. I like your thinking Glen. The statistical chances of a death on each metre of our road is already zero (with some Swedish rounding of course). So there for we are already there if you only look at small bits.

  15. Why would a motorcyclist ever come in contact with a wire barrier on a separated single lane highway, except via driver error (read excessive speed)?

    1. Objects or oil slicks on the road. Road design that is not readable in advance or has deficiencies (such as sudden curves out of the typical range, wrong cross-falls etc). Sudden vehicle failure. Other vehicles sideswiping u.

      Also, like ACC, Vision Zero doesn’t ask about who’s at fault. Vision Zero asks “how can we make sure nobody dies / is harmed seriously”.

    2. If another driver makes an error and strikes the motorcyclist, resulting in the motorcyclist contacting with the barrier.

  16. I believe the largest factor is the state of our roads here in NZ. Our roading infrastructure is second world. Granted the topography of New Zealand is not conducive to cheap and effective highways but it has to be pointed out when comparing with overseas jurisdictions. Transportblog is largely against roading improvements in New Zealand.

    The second factor is policing of the roads. The 4kmph tolerance is killing people as per the graph above. Driving proficiently does not involve staring at your dashboard. It involves driving ahead of your car. We are too harsh on people travelling slightly over the limit but not harsh enough on anyone driving way over the limit i.e. 130kmph+. Police have largely given up on enforcing any other road rule other than speed. The people not indicating, unable to stay in their lane and unable to merge are also the ones who are inattentive. Enforcing existing rules would lead to improvements in other areas.

    1. Norway tried to pretend speeds shouldn’t be seen as first step for safer system approach last decade, you should check travel advice for driving in Norway now that they have similar safety outcomes to Sweden

      Ten years after the Norwegian authorities launched its zero casualties objective for road safety, statistics have not improved. [1996-255][1998=255]

      Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

  17. Here is the future may take some time to filter down to NZ but it is heading in the right direction

    The NZAA is a member of the Federation Internationale de I’Automobile (FIA), which enables the AA to maintain links with overseas motoring clubs

    The FIA High Level Panel for Road Safety
    FIA Representatives
    Brian Gibbons – NZAA
    FIA Deputy President for Automobile Mobility and Tourism

    • Urgent infrastructure safety improvements for highest risk roads.
    • All cars in production meet minimum UN safety standards by 2020.
    • Prioritise pedestrians and cyclists in urban planning.
    • Every country must legislate & enforce seat belt and motorcycle helmet use.
    • Establish and properly resource a UN Road Safety Fund.
    • #SlowDown: < 30 km/h speed limits on school routes and residential streets.
    • By 2030, a safe and healthy journey to school for every child.

    1. This is a better reference on what FIA is advocating for
      Includes group photo and statement from FIA Panel

      In 2017 global road safety campaign priorities include a call for increased funding for road safety. UNECE’s Executive Secretary Christian Friis Bach (above) and the FIA’s High Level Panel for Road Safety (below) are pushing for a UN Road Safety Fund, with FIA Foundation funding and advocacy support.

  18. “Any other activity that caused as much death and injury as roads do would have been shut down long ago.”

    Were it not for this unbelievable anomaly that somehow excuses road-transport from its own failings, the transport scene in New Zealand would look very different. And in the rest of the world also.

    Road-transport dominates today, only because of human irrationality.

  19. Notwithstanding money spend on making our roads safer, I have concerns that driver behaviour is not changing and that by and large, we are bad drivers, by international standards i.e. we are impatient, like to tailgate, do unnecessary and dangerous lane changes, do not know what fog lights or indicators are for, or we travel around in the dark on roads with no car lights on. Actions which can lead to accidents. But then, as we are to believe by the media, all accidents are caused by foreign drivers. In addition, the deterrent for causing a road fatality is, by and large non existent i.e. the report in Thursday’s Herald ‘Father (John Gunn) dismayed over sentence.Therefore, there is no incentive to improve our driving standards.

  20. There are a number of organisations working to support Vision Zero.
    This is the year though that a campaign really needs momentum so that Vision Zero is the policy of the incoming government in September. One way to connect is via the fb group
    Bike Auckland has done a great post explaining the current Annual Budget 17/18 consultation. This is an opportunity to ask the Mayor, Councillors and Local Boards to support Vision Zero as a transport priority.
    The Waitemata Local Board already has Vision Zero as one of our advocacy items (but feedback welcome)
    “Safer Streets – Auckland Transport to adopt a target of zero serious injuries or deaths on our roads as part of a comprehensive safe systems approach to road safety including safe road design, enforcement, safer speeds and driver education”. More here on the Annual Budget consultation and the online feedback form (submissions due by 27 March)

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