Last week Associate Transport Minister Julie Anne Genter released for consultation a draft of a new road safety strategy for New Zealand – known as “Road to Zero”. The Minister’s foreword to the strategy outlines the “case for change” in a pretty compelling way:
Across New Zealand, more than one person is killed every day and seven others are seriously injured in road crashes. New Zealand now ranks at the bottom quarter of the OECD for road safety and the Ministry of Transport’s latest estimate puts the social cost of these crashes at $4.8 billion per year. The impacts on the victims, whānau, friends, communities and workplaces are immeasurable.
This is a national tragedy and as the Minister responsible for road safety, I feel a deep sense of responsibility to do something about it. And as we look ahead to the next ten years of road safety in New Zealand, I also see great opportunities.
Opportunities to not only save hundreds of lives and prevent thousands of people from suffering horrendous, life-altering injuries. Opportunities also to improve Kiwi lifestyles: to influence how we move around and how we feel as we travel; to support people’s health and wellbeing, and improve the places and spaces we love. And an opportunity to provide a consistent, strategic approach to road travel so that everyone, whether they live in our most
lively cities or our most remote and beautiful places, has the same right to arrive safely on their journey.
Our road safety statistics are a national shame, with much higher fatality rates than many other countries around the world.
The strategy is based heavily on the “Vision Zero” approach to road safety that has successfully been implemented around the world. This approach does not accept that deaths and serious injuries are an inevitable outcome, meaning that we need to design transport systems so that people can make mistakes without those mistakes becoming tragedies. You can see the core principles of Vision Zero coming through strongly in “Road to Zero”, especially in its principles:
The strategy then focuses in five main areas:
- Infrastructure improvements and speed management
- Vehicle safety
- Work-related road safety
- Road-user choices
- System management
All this is aimed at achieving a 40% reduction in deaths and serious injuries on New Zealand’s roads over the next decade. Added up, this would mean 750 fewer deaths and 5,600 fewer serious injuries over this time period, if the reduction was achieved at a steady rate.
The video below summarises the strategy:
Overall, this strategy is well overdue and perhaps my only complaint is that it has taken so long to pull together – while the number of people killed or seriously injured on our roads has increased sharply over the past five years. Clearly the previous approach, seemingly largely based around spending a very large amount of money to make a small number of roads safe, was not working at all.
The strategy is open for consultation until the middle of August – so send in your submissions. Closer to the closing date of submissions we will pull together a Greater Auckland submission – please let us know in the comments if you notice anything in the strategy that could be worth submitting on.