This is a guest post from Waitemata Local Board Chair Pippa Coom. She attended the annual TRAFINZ conference last week. TRAFINZ represents local authority views on road safety and traffic management in New Zealand. 

Change is coming to NZ – we just have to be brave

World renowned road safety strategist Dr Matts- Åke Belin has found himself in New Zealand at the worst of times and the best of times for sharing the proven success of “Vision Zero” (the approach to road safety summarised as no loss of life on the roads is acceptable). Dr Belin has been invited to NZ to attend Trafinz and to share how Sweden’s Vision Zero approach has halved the road toll since 1997 to achieve the one of the lowest number of fatalities per capita in the world.

New Zealand’s road toll rate (7.7 fatalities per 100,000) is almost triple Sweden’s and getting worse. It has increased 37% since 2013 (the highest since 2010) after a 40% reduction between 2007- 2013.  372 people have died on New Zealand roads in the last year at an estimated cost of $12m per day (we’re just 3 fatalities away from the total road toll for 2016).  Seven years into the “Safe System” approach to road safety something has been going very wrong.   Meanwhile we are also counting the wider social, environmental and health costs of our transport system.

But as Dr Belin discovered as the keynote speaker at Trafinz there is a strong sense a seismic shift is about to happen to transport policy under the new government.   The stars are lining up for the implementation of Vision Zero NZ far sooner than road safety campaigners could ever have imagined until really recently.

I went to Trafinz to learn from Dr Belin (and the many other excellent presenters-  #trafinz on twitter for updates from the conference) and to find out if transport officials and the road safety sector are ready to embrace a radical change to their thinking and approach.  It is hard not to be sceptical after years of traffic efficiency trumping safety despite a rising road toll but I was very encouraged by what I heard at Trafinz, in particular from NZTA’s representatives.

Lisa Rossiter, Senior Manager Strategic Interventions at NZTA was the first to address head on the opportunity that is coming together.  She had no time for anyone wanting, as she put it, “unhelpful conversations”. She didn’t want to hear that the road toll is “too hard” or that “technology is going to solve everything” or that “we don’t need median barriers.” She only wanted “helpful conversations” because when it comes to controlling energy (vehicles) and protecting people “we know what has to be done”.

credit to Northland Road Safety NZ https://twitter.com/nrsnrcnz

Lisa introduced Dr Paul Graham NZTA’s Principal Scientist from her team.  He looked at a range of complex reasons why NZ’s road safety performance is declining (clue: crash data on overseas drivers, older drivers and motorcycles cannot explain the increase but the 100k increase in the heavy vehicle fleet 2013-17, 70% of used vehicles on the road being over 10 years old and rising open road speeds are stronger factors).  He confirmed that the core philosophy of safe system should be that on NZ roads “you are not killed if someone stuffs up”.  He recognised that it is often hard to get cut through with road safety messages so he suggested we just promote the simple concept to the public: “nobody dies”

Fresh in his role as NZTA’s Safety and Environment Director Harry Wilson offered the most promising “teaser” of what we can expect under the leadership of Minister of Transport Phil Twyford and Associate Minister Julie Anne Genter.   He told us that based on early signs, the new government “wants to make a difference” and that Minister Twyford has asked for “safety and vision zero” to be part of a new transport action plan. Mr Wilson saw it as a “reset of aspirations of what the government is aiming to do” after progress under the previous administration had “stalled” on road safety and infrastructure investment.   He said that the Ministry of Transport had “done us proud” with the briefing to the incoming Minister.

credit to Isabella Cawthorn

As with his other NZTA colleagues Mr Wilson appeared ready to embrace a new approach. As he said “we’ve got to stop trading off safety for time savings,” “our death toll is completely unacceptable, we need to create a sense of outrage and urgency in the public”.

No doubt there will be organizational push back and many tensions (NZTA “ great journeys to keep New Zealand moving”  promise to “customers” is clearly out of step in failing to address both “place” and “movement”, and Agency presentations were strikingly weak on references to climate change). But from my Trafinz takeaways I am hopeful that the next Safer Journeys Action Plan will adopt the “ethical imperative” of Vision Zero to prioritise the safety of people so we can look forward to a future of accessible, inclusive, safe, sustainable, healthy transport that also works to meet our climate change commitments.

As Dr Belin urged in his concluding comments at Trafnz in taking this opportunity, we just have to “work with change and be brave.”   Trafinz President Andy Foster summed up in closing the conference with the sobering fact that if NZ had a road toll similar to Sweden 275 more people would be alive each year.

[Note: All quotes and stats are taken from notes recorded at the conference so there may be errors]

Pippa Coom, is Chair of the Waitematā Local Board, Auckland Council and Transport portfolio lead.  She has recently been appointed to the Executive Committee of Trafinz.

Waitematā Local Board has adopted Vision Zero as an outcome in its Local Board Plan 2017 and is advocating for a zero serious injuries and fatalities target to be included in the Auckland Plan refresh.

Note, you can watch yesterday’s Auckland Conversations discussion here.

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69 comments

  1. As I have said many times the constant banging on about how “speed kills” by the police is a huge factor in this increase. Instead of them focusing on actual dangerous driving (yes that includes people actually speeding not just slightly going over the limit or minimising their time exposed to danger when overtaking) such as drink/drug/on phone driving, or inconsiderate driving – I have yet to see once a cop pull someone over and ticket someone for failing to keep left or failing to allow others to pass (and don’t know anyone who has either). More effort needs to be put into educating motorcyclists and targeting them for unsafe riding. Improving our rail network to get more trucks off the road (particularly logging trucks) will also help.
    We definitely need more passing lanes on our roads too as these are far safer to pass in than overtaking on the wrong side of the road. Our urban road toll is also quite high and that is where speed does actually play a large factor (hitting cyclists, pedestrians etc). It also seems to be that a week doesn’t go by where some kid playing in the driveway isn’t killed by being backed over… that alone makes a huge difference.
    Targeting zero is an excellent goal. I just don’t want to see the police go from an almost facist obsession with speed to taking it even further 1984 style.

    1. I’d rather we moved away from passing lanes and put in more pull over bays and engineer them better so that cars can pull into them without loosing too much speed.

      It would need a change in culture and enforcement to ensure they are used, however I think it would be safer than the race to the end of the passing lane, and as you say overtaking on the other side of the road.

      1. And then what, to make the transition easier we can call the pull over bay the left lane, and the other lane the passing lane.

        I don’t think racing to the end of a pull-over bay is safer than racing to the end of a passing lane.

        1. I wasn’t suggesting engineering pull over bays to allow people to continue at 80 – 90kmh, just to ensure they don’t loose all momentum. The difference compared with a passing lane is that a pull over bay makes it clear that you are letting people pass. The right of way would belong to the existing (right) lane.

    2. Actually, I have seen somebody pulled over for slow driving once. Once.

      It was a lovely spring morning in Hawkes Bay in the year 2000 or 2001. I was heading towards Napier via SH2. In the morning, this road is always heavy heading to Napier and light heading to Hastings. Reverse the flow after work.

      I was travelling no faster than 80 until I got to Clive. Once outside of Clive we only got to 80. This is pretty normal, in HB there’s a saying – “You know when you’re in Hawkes Bay because of people doing 80 on a 100k road”. It must be noted that most 100k roads are in excellent condition and the weather is often very good for driving. Passing lanes between Napier and Hastings were non-existent.

      About a kilometer out from Clive, the road allows you to see about a km ahead… A kilometer of slow traffic on excellent roads, in excellent weather. No passing lane in those days.

      In my rear view mirror I could see at least 1/2 a km of traffic behind me and, very unusually, flashing lights.

      This cop was obviously very urgently trying to get somewhere, his driving was positively dangerous. Even with people pulling to the left and slowing down, the cop was still passing when the oncoming traffic was a bit close (room on those roads to do this, but it is a little tight). After a while, the cop passed me and kept going like a madman.

      A few minutes later I passed the cop. He’d pulled over the slow driver, who by this time was scratching his head and wearing a confused look, as the cop was writing a ticket. Also by this point, traffic had sped up to almost 100k.

      That is the only time I’ve seen anybody pulled over for obstructing the flow of traffic. I spent almost a decade driving 400-1000km per week for my job and never saw a repeat, though it wasn’t unusual to see a cop stuck in traffic.

      Inconsiderate drivers, who fail to pull over or otherwise obstruct traffic, induce stupidity in other drivers. People get frustrated, they lose patience, they perform risky maneuvers (like the cop and his passing). Wire medians can help, however they can also shift the problem elsewhere. Case in point, driving behavior on SH2 heading south from Napier, just after the wire median. The root cause of the issue (driving culture) wasn’t managed, only worked around. We need safer roads, but also to work on our culture.

    3. The problem is that Speed does kill. It’s an undeniable fact. Good drivers make mistakes no matter how long they have been driving without a crash. Also a fact. If everyone were driving drunk and high while texting and driving at 5km/h, there wouldn’t be that many fatalities on the road. This is a pretty fair guess.

      Of course you do have a point in that if you have the right infra, you can still travel at speed safely, but I question why you ever need to travel that fast anyway?

      Perhaps people need to not be so much in a rush to get to places. Seriously, why does anyone need to travel so fast in order to save a few minutes that they will waste watching cat videos on Facebook anyway. The time you save is so tiny, it is stupid.

      Speeding should be socially unacceptable, but it isn’t. Not like drinking, smoking,texting while driving.

      No arterial road in Auckland should be above 50kmph and all local residential streets should be 30kmph. And they should be designed so you can’t go much faster than that anyway.

      I also find it interesting that Norway adopted Vision Zero 20 years ago and saw almost no results for 10 years. Now they are catching up with Sweden and have 1/3 the death/rate we do.

      1. +1 speed kills, but don’t forget that speed isn’t about black and white.

        Where somebody makes a mistake, or does something stupid, shouldn’t we also look into _why_ that happened?

        Whilst there are such things as accidents, I hazard that most incidents are not accidental, only unintended. EG: “I didn’t intend to suffer a blowout, spin into other cars, however if I didn’t pass dangerously that wouldn’t have happened”. The car spinning out was no accident, it was the unintended consequence of a conscious act.

        How about: Why should I suffer from another’s arrogance or intentional stupidity. That’s not necessarily how I feel, but an example of part of our culture that needs to change.

        As I say so often these days – It’s complicated 🙂

        1. +2 You are right and I would say that for most crashes Speed in and of itself doesn’t directly cause an accident to take place rather it makes it harder to avoid an accident as a consequence of a mistake. And it most certainly makes the outcome of any accident worse. I like how road safety adds have been pushing this recently but I do wonder to what extent the message is getting through.

          1. I agree and this is why: There was one time I was driving the Napier – Taupo road, fantastic weather on a good piece of the road. I was approaching a sweeping up hill blind corner, one that was built for speed.

            My passengers asked why I was slowing down (only went down to 80), to which I replied that it’s a high crash area. We came around the corner only to find a logging truck on it’s side blocking the two oncoming lanes and most of our lane. The accident was so recent that there wasn’t any warnings in place.

            More speed would have resulted in us colliding with the truck. Lower speed = accident/incident avoided.

    4. “I have yet to see once a cop pull someone over and ticket someone for failing to keep left or failing to allow others to pass (and don’t know anyone who has either).”

      I saw this about 3 months ago. Someone sat in the right lane from Karaka to Pokeno never going over 95. Just as I gave up and went to undertake, there was a cop on the side of the road; pulled out immediately and pulled the other guy over. I don’t see how it could be anything other than a tip off from the other cops we passed.

      1. The fact it took so long for that to happen is of course an issue.
        Could have been a *555 Call.
        So that’s one time. How many times have you seen people pulled over for other things?

        1. I have no way to know why people are pulled over, as I’ve only ever seen them parked up.

          Well, I did see one car pulled over for speeding earlier this year – Nice Lambo on Queen St. Gunned it at the lights, not seeing the unmarked police car behind him. Still makes me smile thinking of that.

    5. I have bwen pulled over twice for holding up traffic so does happen. One was Kararangahape
      gorge where a bit hard to pull over.

  2. “we’ve got to stop trading off safety for time savings”

    Absurd. All human life is equal. All parts of a human life are equal. A human life consists of time; it is the duration of our existence that is literally *our life*

    As such, life does have a time value. 42048000 minutes (approximately). One person’s life is worth the same as 42048000 people’s one minute.

    If we couldn’t trade off safety for time savings, we’d have no problem having the entire human population of the earth put in stasis for eternity to prevent one death. We realise this is absurd and realise *sometimes* we can trade time for life. It’s the balance that is important.

        1. Supposing road-accidents were made entirely predictable. Supposing we could be advised in-advance with 100% certainty, the names of the 372 fatalities / 3720 serious injuries (or whatever it is) that will be required without-fail next year, in order to enable our horribly-dangerous road-transport system to continue on as it has for the past several decades.

          JDELH, supposing your name appeared on the casualty-list for next year. Would you be happy to volunteer your soul “for the greater good” of ensuring that other motorists can continue to drive at speeds which result in this outcome? Or would you suddenly find yourself valuing life more highly? Would you find new enthusiasm for persuading others to take a little more time over their journeys, knowing that this could save your bacon?

          How many of “other-people’s minutes” do you feel your life to be worth?

    1. OK, lets put it another way (thanks to Dr Matts- Åke Belin for this), what is an acceptable road death toll then? 300? 200? 100? 50? 20? 1? Go on, make a decision…

          1. Good point, billions and billions of people have died and not one of them has decided to give up death for traffic. Preference revealed.

    2. Sorry JDELH but I strongly disagree. Do you own a truck? There is strong evidence that most people (commuters) have a “travel time budget”. The more you speed up traffic the more KM people drive. I am not aware of any evidence that speeding up traffic reduces crashes, or indeed reduces the overall time people spend driving. Can you provide any (non-anecdotal) evidence to support your view?

      1. That might be true for urban commuters or those in satellite towns, but isn’t true for rural driving.
        Say for example someone wants a weekend getaway to Ohakune from Auckland (or a business meeting somewhere), having a faster and more consistent drive isn’t going to make them suddenly go oh maybe I’ll just carry on to Palmy instead!
        What it does do however is mean that someone might arrive at 10:30pm rather than 11:30pm so actually be in bed asleep before midnight rather than 1am and then gets to make the most of the next day rather than being tired. Then when they drive home they aren’t still tired and make a mistake or fall asleep at the wheel.
        The difference between 80km/h and 100km/h on long journeys is not just a few minutes.

    3. “All human life is equal. All parts of a human life are equal.”

      No. Pharmac has make hard decisions. They put a price on life and divvy up the funds appropriately. Notably, they don’t consider all parts of a human life equal: youth is considered more important than age, because of the number of healthy years that follow.

      More personally, money would be better spent preventing deaths like that of my paternal grandmother – a woman in her 30s with three children aged 3,4 and 6, than on preventing the deaths like that of my maternal grandmother – a woman in her 80s who had survived a number of strokes over several years.

      But to compare the loss of a life with little time savings for a whole lot of rushed travellers is immoral.

      1. Pharmac use exactly the same logic. All parts of human life are equal but young people have more parts to go, therefore they’re more valuable. Agree entirely.

        In my example above I’m assuming a normal distribution of commuters and deaths.

        1. OK, good we clarified that.

          We can and should decide where to spend money first based on best bang-for-buck in preventing deaths. We could even decide to spend it first where young people are most vulnerable. This is the Pharmac metaphor.

          But that’s not what you’re doing. You’re suggesting we decide whether or not to spend money on preventing deaths. You’re basing your argument on equating the summation of lots of people’s little bits of possibly happy or thoughtful time – not “time in stasis” – on a slightly longer trip with the loss of a life. As mfwic points out, they are not equivalent.

          A second way your argument is flawed is that, as Scott points out, reducing the time of travel increases the km driven through induced traffic. You’re not giving that time back to people after all.

          Your argument is an “unhelpful conversation”. The benefits from making our roads safer are enormous. Those that are social and psychological are probably intangible and somewhat unquantifiable, while those in the field of commerce go largely ignored due to the historical roads bias of our business community. Conversely, the drawbacks from keeping our roads unsafe are insidious and far-reaching, and similarly unmeasured.

          Arguing for calculations before taking action on saving lives is more than just being a fly in the ointment. It’s callous and irrational.

    4. firstly why assume there has to be a trade off? Granted in a lot of cases one may be traded against the other but lets not limit our thinking.
      Secondly while there is certainly logic to your answer it is somewhat inhuman. You are basically saying the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few or one. But sometimes the needs of the few outweigh the needs of the many, it is part of what makes us human. That is why hundreds of volunteers will show up and search for days to find a lost child in the bush. That is why rescuers will risk their lives to save those in danger.

  3. I see that this noise coming from NZTA is window dressing and posturing for a new minister and new Government.

    The fundamental core belief of both NZTA, and by simple logical extension, AT – is that they serve motorists and no one else.
    From this single core belief comes everything they do, or do not do.

    Without changing that core belief thoughout the organisations nothing will change.

    Considering AT and NZTA are basically joined at the hip [think older brother, and little brother who looks up to the older one], and looking back the 7 years of AT, with its constant lip service, feet dragging, and PT wash they have constantly delivered. You have to wonder, doesn’t real change [like charity] begin at home AT?

    Yet I see and think NZTA is taking serious learnings from AT’s “civil disobedience” , over how to delay, prolong and bait and switch the “present” Government until the next one [more in tune with the core belief] comes along. I believe the MoT and NZTA rank and file are closing ranks to ensure that their beliefs are not challenged by whatever messages the higher ups spout.

    If it wasn’t for the likes of local boards in Auckland like Waitemata, of which Pippa Coom is a valuable member, Auckland would be a lot worse off for PT, walking and cycling now than it would have been.

    However, when looking back at the 7 years of AT, we see a clear pattern emerging from them of doing everything they can do frustrate the outcomes that the population is constantly telling all the Auckland politicians, from the Local Boards on up, that they want. Because “they know best”.

    NZTA is simply AT writ large, and I don’t see Vision Zero happening in any meaningful way any time soon.
    No matter how good Twyford and Genter are.

    The NZTA folks who turn policy into action (or more likely, inaction) will obfuscate every initiative they don’t agree with in as many ways as they can.

    We truly need a clean out, not just a new minister.

    Banning Trucking/Road lobby groups from the grounds of Parliament would be a good first step.
    You didn’t get HPMVs [super heavy trucks] on the road without serious lobbying going on.

    And for all the arguments that were made that HPMVs would result in more freight being carried over fewer vehicles. And take more older trucks off the roads.

    We see that we now have 100K more Heavy vehicles on the roads over the last 4 years.

    Somethings wrong with this picture…

    1. Central Govt needs to reform all of the CCOs to put more accountability, if not democracy, in place. Once the Council can actually _control_ a CCO, instead of the current beg, citizens will have a clear line of accountability – The mayor and councillors.

      I have faith that the current govt will reform NZTA, though how quickly meaningful culture change can occur is of course arguable.

      1. That tells that maybe that’s because you know you’re in the problem set. Not the solution set.

        Did you see reflections of yourself in the mirror perhaps, and didn’t like what you saw?

  4. There is actually a big opportunity to improve rural road safety if we divert some of the motorway project billions into doing all those little safety fixes that are put off due to “lack” of funds. This includes widening narrow bridges, wire rope barriers, and realigning dangerous intersections with poor sight distance.

    Sweden does very well with rural three lane (2+1 alternating) roads that feature wire rope safety barrier in the median. They are safer than many four lane (but higher speed) motorways that get justified on safety grounds. Sweden is similar size and rural population density to NZ, so if they work there, why can’t they work here?
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2%2B1_road

  5. If NZTA believe in economics, productivity and incentives, why don’t we apply it to them? Each year, we can measure the road toll and average commuting times. If they improve, NZTA’s budget goes up. If they worsen, NZTA’s budget goes down, and other agencies get a chance to solve the problems with the funds instead? Its consumer (motorist) response driven, so NZTA execs should love it!

    1. If this came in and I were NZTA I’d close all motorways except a small controlled segment of the Waikato Expressway. I’d hit all my incentives

  6. Speed limits above 50 km/hr on urban routes increases the probability and severity of accidents. At the Eastern end of Oteha Valley Road (Albany) there is a “High Crash Risk Area” sign not more than 50m from a 60 km/hr speed limit sign. Duh.

    Slowing all traffic to 50km/hr on urban roads would have other benefits as well. Auckland Transport have recently built a new footpath (with no berm) on the Northern side of Otea Valley Road. It is terrifying to use, especially when boy racers (who are encouraged by increased speed limits) whizz by.

    On the Albany Express Way, between the traffic lights at the Constellation Drive and Bush Road intersections the speed limit is 80km/hr. Vehicles accelerate up the hill to 80km/hr and then stop at the lights at the top. Not only is this a waste of energy but it makes people feel they need to buy more powerful vehicles to use the roads in their neighbourhood.

    Change is coming? Bring it on.

  7. Great post and from a quick skim a disappointing set of comments hijacked by people who don’t get Vision Zero. It’s about not blaming the drivers anymore, but designing the roads better.

    Speed seems to be the blind spot for several otherwise intelligent commenters here. Disappointing. Just slow down and smell the roses. Accept a slower speed as normal. No death is worth it, and the statistics speak for themselves. Drivers frustrated by other people driving too slowly need an Al-Anon style help group.

    1. Why should we not blame people who make mistakes?

      I understand exactly what you’re saying:
      1. To err is human
      2. To forgiven is divine
      3. Therefore find ways to reduce the result of error so the consequences aren’t so bad

      I disagree with the first proposition. Let’s focus on reducing the probability of a mistake, not on reducing the consequences of that mistake.

      And don’t give me the “ethics” argument, your ethics is the most pub-level utilitarianism ever (ends vs. means). I can just as ethically say that in reducing the consequences of an immoral act i.e. crashing we are making immorality more likely. Ethics isn’t just about consequences. Would you murder 10 babies to save 11?

      1. The problem is that blaming people for making mistakes doesn’t stop mistakes from occurring. No matter how tough we are on breaking road rules, there will still be people who will disobey them and there will still be people who make mistakes.
        I agree we should take a strong stance on obeying the rules and cultivating good driving habits, but we shouldn’t rely on this to get the road toll down.

      2. So you’re saying let’s completely ignore a proven strategy at lowering road deaths and carry on with what were doing now? So, 350 is an acceptable road death target in your opinion?

    2. I generally agree. However, there is no reason slower and faster road users can’t share the roads in complete harmony, I just requires some respect and understanding from both sides, and some improved road design.

      Those that want to travel at the speed limit need to be aware some prefer to travel slower and be willing to wait until they have a safe and convenient opportunity to pull aside. Those that like to travel a bit slower need to be aware there are other road users and take safe steps to allow them to pass.

      I would never blame a driver for making a mistake, we all do, but I am quite happy to point the finger at drivers who drive with no thought for anyone else on the road.

  8. The winner of the contract to build the CRL tunnel is to announced this year.
    I hope the decision hasn’t been delayed as most want it completed asap.

    1. The contract winners are now unlikely to be announced until late next year at the earliest due to CRLL restructuring the contract packages

  9. Here are my notes from Dr Paul Graham’s presentation ” Why is NZ’s road safety performance declining”
    I think his data shows how abhorrent it is to blame bad driving or irresponsible drivers on the 37% increase in fatalities since 2013 (34% increase in serious injuries and a 38% increase in ACC claims)

    He looked at where there have been increases and the multiple influences on the road toll.
    In users there has been no great change eg overseas drivers, motorcycles (+11% licensed drivers) are slowly rising; older drivers are steady
    He looked at the regional differences that show it is a nationwide problem (eg Auckland is +20%)
    More vehicles on the road and more KM traveled may be a factor but have only increased 11%

    More crashes are happening more often – he presented some factors
    Serious injuries caused by car v truck has doubled to 27%.
    Heavy vehicle fleet has increased by 100k since 2013
    He looked at % exceeding speed limit. Open road speeds are going up by 1% For every 1% increase in speed there is a 4% increase in fatalities (corridors make up 4% of the network but 30% of fatalities and serious injuries)

    Vehicle safety is another factor
    Half of all occupant fatalities are in vehicles more than 15 years old (used car fleet getting bigger. 40% of vehicles have only a 1 or 2 star rating). Younger people tend to drive older vehicles

    He didn’t have any answers as to why there has been a doubling in the number killed not using a seat belt in last 3 years but observed that buckle up campaigns have declined (to focus on other road safety messages) so perhaps the message had stopped getting through.

    As he is quoted in this article – at any given crash “we don’t need to ask why this accident happened … we do need to ask why people were killed or seriously hurt.”

    https://www.stuff.co.nz/motoring/98689390/reducing-crash-severity-will-cut-road-toll-experts-say

    1. I had suspected that our old fleet of cars was one of the reasons our road toll has gone up as I believe that some of the early significant car safety improvements in the 90’s were what helped to bring the toll down in the first place.
      It is perplexing that there has been a rise in the number of people not wearing seatbelts. Surely putting your seatbelt on is a basic safety behavior that once learned you don’t need to be reminded of and is one that you will pass on to your kids. So it shouldn’t be necessary for there to be regular buckle up campaigns for seatbelt wearing to remain?
      It makes me wonder how many people actually take road safety seriously.

      1. our old fleet of cars isn’t too bad. Certainly not like it was 10 years ago. Crash test results were certainly on the radar in 2002 and many cars, even used imports, had airbags / ABS etc by then. I’m wondering if the added safety features are adding to the lax attitude people take on our roads now?

        1. You may have a very good point about peoples attitudes. I can remember someone saying to be once you should drive as if there were a metal spike sticking out of the centre of the steering wheel pointing at your heart.
          But the problem with safety features is that things like ABS and airbags have been around for a while and I think this has helped bring the road toll down. But thins like stability control while not new are still not very common on our old fleet of cars

    2. Thanks Pippa, Do you think there might be a bit too much emphasis on why our road tithe has gone up in the last few years? I would think that route leads to a focus on a more narrow set of factors than looking at why it was already such a big number.

      1. Good point. Focusing on the increase has perhaps been good for drawing attention to the issue and the need for a new approach but yes we need to look at the big number in the first place – agreeing it is unacceptable and not just inevitable would be a great start in NZ

    1. “In a traditional approach, the problem you’re trying to solve is the problem with accidents. And when you make in-depth studies you will see that human factor is involved in 90 percent. So you focus very much on how you can prevent accidents from occurring, how can you change behaviour and that sort of thing.

      But in Vision Zero, the accident is not the major problem. The problem is that people get killed or seriously injured. And the reason that people get serious injuries is mainly because people have a certain threshold where we can tolerate external violence, kinetic energy. And we know quite well now how much violence we can tolerate.

      One of the major things with Vision Zero now is to put that more explicitly on the table. It’s like if we’re talking about the environment, and you know you have a certain threshold when it comes to poison, or whatever. You can tolerate up to a certain level. So it’s not just to stop the traffic. You can actually allow traffic. But if you have places in your system where you have unprotected road users and protected road users, according to Vision Zero you can’t allow a higher speed than 30 kilometers per hour [18.6 mph].”

  10. There are comments on this same post on my FB along the lines – Don’t support VZ because no one has been killed at the local shops so we don’t need any changes to make it safer . (relating to this project http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11942515)

    Isabella Cawthorn has replied with this great summary of the potential of Vision Zero on local roads. (Thanks also to Isabella for reviewing my post and assisting with the editing)

    “The key thing here folks is the human body’s tolerance for violent impact. When we’re vulnerable we instinctively feel this in some way, so (e.g.) we feel a bit hesitant, maybe a bit apprehensive crossing (e.g.) Great North Road compared with a road that’s slower, narrowed, has cars actually stopping for people on foot/pushchairs/wheelchairs etc. This is the invisible stuff: the older folks who hardly ever get out of the house because they can’t drive and it’s hard to cross roads. The kids who don’t bike or walk to school because the traffic is too fast. The people without driver licences or the funds to run a car whose lives are eaten up by the time taken to get around. The people whose small, locally owned businesses are eaten away by supermarkets and malls because once you’re in the car you may as well do it all in one go, and not bother shopping at the little local shop.
    These are the costs of trips not made. They don’t appear in the death stats as “people killed” because we keep ourselves out of the death & serious injury stats by staying home, by driving to school, by spending 4 hours a day on the bus.

    Instead, these costs appear in our obesity statistics, our poor cardiovascular health, our social isolation as old people, our carbon emissions. But a Vision Zero approach implemented locally – outside state highways – is: we put vulnerable humans first. We say “people are likely to get badly hurt if hit at 50km or even 40km so let’s make the destinations, the local town centres, the school zones, the pedestrian-crossing areas 30km”. Narrow the driving lanes, put trees in, make it hard to hoon through at 59km. Fast driving is ok on highways – especially when they’re built better to minimise the cost of human error. But locally, where the point of a place is shopping, eating, talking, meeting people, going to school, living, make it so people’s actual *and perceived* safety and comfort is the centre of the design. Not cars moving as fast as we can get away with.

    That’s Vision Zero in local roads. That’s the source of the huge potential for our towns, and that’s quite separate and way more promising for our daily quality of life (IMO) than reducing the death toll when we’re on NZTA’s state highways.”

    1. Excellent. I wonder how long we need to wait until AT makes the city 30 km/hr unless otherwise stated? AT can start with its stated “tactical urbanism” approach to speed the process up. Or we can.

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