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.

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  1. The sad part is that a very similar version of Vision Zero has been “in place” for years (since at least 2012) already at NZTA – it’s called the “Safe System approach”. A set of recommendations were made based on this approach – things like ranking roads, building shoulders and median wire etc. – we’ve all seen it be rolled out……. very very very slowly. The majority of the suggested actions were not taken however. How will vision zero be any different, I wonder?

    My main issue with both is that they seem to heavily lean on car-safety over safety-for-all. In the vision zero document they propose roundabouts to reduce casualties at intersections, without bothering to mention anything about multilane roundabouts with no explicit cycling and pedestrian provision are a complete shitshow.

    That makes it feel like safety wash, with the same thinking just being stuck into another (very similar) model as the previous one. Obviously the safety of vehicle occupants is a major focus, but vision zero is explicit in the fact that it is about ALL road users. If we spend the next decade focusing on making roads safer for cars, they will just get more and more dangerous for pedestrians and cyclists.

    The second page of the document also features an image of spaghetti junction (cars cars cars cars cars cars) taken before Te Ara I Whiti was built (the link for pedestrians and cyclists…) .

    “Vulnerable (road) users” are mentioned twice in 68 pages, though the images are dotted with walking and cycling (always with helmets, in unprotected bike lanes, so safe….)

    I see lots of kids in PPE, which is concerning also. I know these are just images, but this document was signed off by someone who is supposed to understand vision zero.

    Anyway I need to read the whole thing.

    I’m not optimistic at this point to be honest – maybe I’ve missed some subtle aspect to what is in this document.

    1. That approach is half-decent for rural state highways but completely inappropriate for urban and suburban roads. The problem emerges when NZTA only really thinks about rural state highways. Councils responsible for a lot of urban and suburban roads look to NZTA to provide guidance on safety treatments and end up getting inappropriate or inadequate advice. Roundabouts are a great example of this: Improves safety at rural intersections with low traffic volumes and few non-motorised road users. Reduces safety for urban arterial roads with high traffic volumes and lots of pedestrians and cyclists.

      1. The state highways are where most of the death occur.

        My issue is mainly concerning driver training, in NZ it’s poor, kiwis are awful drivers, parents should not be allowed to teach there kids, driving schools should be mandatory for everyone.

        We also need compulsory vehicle insurance for everyone. If you link insurance to registration, any car not registered isn’t insured, the police then get to confiscate and crush it.

    2. Just on the roundabout proposal, its actually very logical. The emphasis has been crash reduction rather than death reduction. Conflicting intersections controlled by a beam of red light works pretty well but like Joyce’s “pretty legal”, that is nowhere near good enough.

      Roundabouts cause the vehicles to first slow down, to anticipate giving way and although crashes do occur,, rarely do they involve body trauma. There is a hard core group of Kiwis who struggle with them only because they don’t know the rules and how to use them properly, turning giving way into a compulsory stop. And of course Compulsory Stops into Give Ways.

      1. Yes, the geometry serves safety well. dr’s point about “multilane roundabouts with no explicit cycling and pedestrian provision” however, still holds.

        Multilane roundabouts fail for vulnerable users even in the Netherlands. NZ will have to bite the bullet and reduce the number of lanes down to one each way for roundabouts to be an appropriate solution here. Alternatively, we need to find other solutions that still work with the Vision Zero principles.

        There have been workshops and reference groups and a lot of work on understanding how to improve safety in the last year and a bit. I would hope that vulnerable users at intersections – and whether we will use single lane roundabouts with good cycling and walking provision, or something else entirely (but NOT multilane roundabouts) is something they’ve sorted. In which case, I would want to see it in the documentation.

        1. A peculiar thing about many roundabouts here is that you can drive dead straight through them. If you feel confident there is no conflicting traffic you can easily go through them at the speed limit.

        2. If that is the case, then what is the prime purpose for a roundabout?
          To get as much traffic through as fast as possible? Or as safely as possible? My guess is the former, in New Zealand.

        3. Austroads (Australasian) road design guidelines require that the vehicle path through a roundabout have some deflection to prevent too high speeds. So if this is possible the designer has got it wrong.

        4. That’s probably the difference between an intuitive path, as guided by cues such as colouring and slight raised areas, and a possible path, as chosen by a driver wishing to test the limits of the system.

        5. If you want an example of how not to build roundabouts, just visit Hawkes Bay where multilane roundabouts are breeding like rabbits.
          The design is, in my opinion poor. The main one on the HB Expressway has cycle lanes that stop where you are expected to cross four lanes of traffic decelerating from 100km/h. The signage is poorly placed and when turning off the roundabout you are straight into a negative camber turn. The approach signage is inconsistent which sees drivers taking the inside lane and then turning across the outside lane to make a left hand exit. There is centre median wire barriers in the north-south approaches that have seen multiple incidents and they have only been in place less than 6 months. The northern approach is on a stretch of road (1-1.5kms) that slopes from right to left at approximately 5-10 degrees so it feels like you are driving on the side of a hill.

      2. Roundabouts suck for bikes, pedestrians and now scooters. Whether they are technically safer or not doesn’t matter, they don’t feel safe. They also have terrible throughput at peak times. AT should have a policy of removing all multilane roundabouts and most single lane roundabouts in Auckland IMO.
        If the only reason they are safer is because they slow people first, couldn’t that also be achieved through some kind of chicane or speed bumps at traffic lights?
        I also think we could use technology to make traffic lights safer. For example why not embed a strip of LED coloured lights across the road. This would avoid the main issue where people don’t see the light which is on the side of the road (in fact I don’t think having anything on the side of the road makes sense – people should be looking at the road, not the side).

        1. Its terrible land use though (as are a number of existing Auckland roundabouts).

        2. What do you mean? Land is expensive in the Netherlands; they tend to use it sparingly :). And that roundabout footprint seems fairly compact. Many signalised intersections take up more space once you add turning lanes etc.

        3. Agreed Stu. As I said in another comment the roundabouts only get too large when we design them for inappropriately large vehicles (i.e. semi-trailers).

  2. Mandatory driver licence retraining every 5 years in theory and 10 years practically so;

    New Zealanders actually know the rules of driving when they take to the road unlike the Lemming/blind man with wooden glasses model we currently follow

    Know and can demonstrate they know how to control a motor vehicle and all aspects of that vehicles controls in all practicable situations.

    Understand why you need to maintain a motor vehicle for road safety, not just rely on the little man annually at the testing station to do it for you, which in itself is not a legal defense, by the way.

    These should be bare minimum basics to drive, yet we have a built in entitlement to pass a test a couple of millennia back, have no idea who gives way or why or what a road sign/marking tells you or that you even have to look at one, why the rear window fogs up, why that is bad and how to rectify that, drive on incredibly substandard half flat tyres and yet enshrine the “she’ll be right” skills attitude for life, never to questioned again, ever!

    1. Our accident rate is in the bottom quartile of the OECD yet is our driver licensing regime so different that would explain this? I doubt it. I think our driver licensing regime is broadly comparable with Australia’s, our vehicle fitness regime for cars demonstrably better and yet their roads are safer.
      My experience is that Australian authorities are much more aggressive in setting lower then the default speed limits on the more challenging sections of road, and enforcement is much more active.
      Can anybody else provide more credible explanations?

      1. Our driver licensing regime is awful. You sit tests in your teens or twenties largely then that’s it, job done. There are some truly incompetent people out there holding on to that steering wheel for dear life. Time and road rules move on as do cars, the drivers, not so much, actually not at all.

        A few examples. I note that 99% of drivers run the red flashing lights at railway crossings because they think the arm going up indicates green and going down means red. Why, because back in ’83 or whenever they sat their licence was the last time they looked at the rule book. And every one goes through them so why can’t I? This is the subterranean safety standard we have on the roads.

        We have absolute muppets out there who know next to nothing except to pretty much stay on the left side of the road but always hugging the centre line if not crossing it on bends and who obey most traffic signals, not all mind, and leave the rest to fate. How is that a recipe for safe roads?

  3. Have been discussing enforcement with an Australian colleague at work this morning after having a (nother) ‘discussion’ with a driver parked across the Triangle road bike lane this morning on my ride in. That was after he skipped out of the queue that lines up to get into the left turn lane.

    He was saying how in Aus the police have been enforcing road rules much more stringently for over 40 years and how it has made a difference to driver behaviour.

    I think it’s well documented that the previous 4 way coalition govt has underfunded many govt depts and the on-road police presence is one of them.

    We need to get more police on the road, it makes a difference.

    The quickest easiest change though, is to lower the speed limit. No consultation required, just change it.

      1. Nothing arbitrary about keeping speed limits safe. The reduction of crashes – with the congested traffic spewing fumes they entail – is one way emissions are reduced. The shift to active modes that have safety as a prerequisite is another.

      2. Butty – my understanding is if you drop from 100kmh to 80 your time to destination is longer but you still use less fuel even though you’ve spent more time driving.

        Happy to be corrected on that.

        1. Also a drop of peak speed from 100kph to 80kph does not equate to a 20% increase in journey time or any any thing like it on the average journey that includes some open road travel.

  4. I expect my government to make changes based on evidence to save lives without needing to consult about it.

    I wonder if anyone knows whether Sweden consulted with the public before the parliament approved Vision Zero? I know there was a ministry report circulated for comment in 1996, but I don’t know if this means public consultation of the style that we are plagued with, in which responses to open ended questions then get treated as if it is a vote.

    In this day and age, 22 years after Sweden’s parliament approved the concept, and with all the evidence now gathered, there seems to be no justification for this consultation. It simply delays improvements, gives misinformed members of the public a heightened sense of entitlement to make decisions about safety, and risks whether the system is adopted.

    Our children need an overhaul of our consultation practices.

    1. Sweden is a different type of society. Think nazis in volvos. They are used to being told what to do and they have a system of social control through pressure to comply with their societal norms that is quite different to us. The closer you get to the equator the less that type of system seems to apply.

      1. We have just as much being told what to do and social control. It’s just that in transport, it’s arrogant transport designers and drivers that are telling vulnerable road users what to do, and controlling society.

        Aversion to state intervention to provide safety is a truism – we have a lot of people in families that have been destroyed by traffic trauma. I think the mythology that we’re too laissez faire to fix it is not correct, and repeating it only serves the status quo.

      2. “a system of social control through pressure to comply with their societal norms” → Is that not just the definition of society?

        If you think NZ doesn’t have such system then you’re dreaming. Have you ever seen any of these here: ‘Do not dry your laundry outside on a clothesline’. ‘Do not park on your driveway’. ‘There must be exactly trees of ’ on your verge.

        I definitely observe more pressure to ‘keep up appearances’ here than in Europe.

        1. Maybe I am just immune to all that crap in NZ. I am the dude with trees overhanging the footpath and I had a full sized scotch thistle growing in my front garden 1m metre from where people walk. Instead of removing it I went out and set up my camera with a macro lens on a tripod and took a picture of it. I thought it was stunning. Mrs mfwic’s aunt is Swedish. She moved to NZ because she found it oppressive over there. Here she decided to stay home and raise her children, she said over there she would have free child care but would be subject to family and community pressure to go back to paid work. In NZ you can get away with doing as you like, in northern Europe not so much. They have far better services than we do but you have to accept far higher taxes and someone else making most of the choices.

        2. Thistles, globe artichokes and cardoon are all gorgeous. The stunning blue flowers, and also the seed heads. Take a look at my cardoon:

          I guess different things oppress different people. I think we should be far more concerned with the oppression of our children due to traffic danger.

        3. Lovely. Having a messy and ‘overgrown’ garden is getting harder here. For years we were the second messiest in the street. The other people have sold and a fancy subdivision is going in so now we are the worst yard in the street. My response to the disapproval is to do even less.

        4. We need to take our cues from nature, and she abhors tidiness. I wear my garden’s mess as a badge of honour. Without it, I wouldn’t have the amazing bird, insect and skink life that I do.

        5. We have the same except unfortunately I think they are plague skinks from Australia or whereever. Not sure how to kill them.

      3. Kind of agree, Miffy, not so much Chinese made Volvos and the Third Reich however. But it is very unhelpful making comparisons between NZ and the Nordic states be it road safety, health, education, crime or societal morals and ethics but Christ knows people do it all the time. Especially in education.

        Sweden is very monocultural as is most of the Nordic states and I am guessing, purposely so. Denmark’s citizens simply do as they are told by the looks of it, non-conformity is a sin and outsiders not so tolerated either.

        For all its faults parts of NZ is very multicultural, most especially Auckland where most of us live which makes it a very interesting (in a good way) place to live. People comply with, accept and reject on the basis of their cultures and what they think is right or wrong. Good luck applying the Swedish model to anything here!

        1. Two people have been sentenced for racially motivated violence this week, it’s barely 4 months since Christchurch, and then there’s Bastion PT wait I mean Ihumatao.

          I would contend there is in fact a standard of predominant white culture which judges what to accept for all.

          In Auckland, people have requested lower speed limits on 800km more road than was even proposed, but the media narrative was dominated by commercial beneficiaries of the status quo.

          I’m just not seeing the link between multiculturalism and resisting road safety.

        2. Some societies especially monoculture do not question things anywhere near as much let alone give the middle finger to what their government want. And those good volks just suck it up and do what they are told.

          NZ is not really one of those. Look at the bike helmet laws here, its become pseudo optional. We have different thresholds for what is considered correct or acceptable and what isn’t and that translates into who buys into a proposal or a method of doing things and who doesn’t and none at times are wrong. That is the difference.

        3. Where is the evidence that any truly meaningful proportion of society is giving the middle finger to this stuff.

          Problem is the consultation process is broken and skews to power not people.

          I’d say the common inability of road law to be followed arises not from desire to resist authority, because the authority tacitly allows such by how it has set the levers of control. Per the helmet example, if the cops and fines were like australia (god forbid) don’t you think the situation would change.

          If we have more red light cameras there’s not going to be more red light running. If we engineer roads to encourage safer speeds there’s not going to be more unsafe speeding.

      4. Yeah I think NZ goes to far the other way though… ‘Analysis leads to paralysis’… I’m a big fan of evidence based policy making.
        Much in the same way I trust plane engineers. I think as a society we need to trust traffic engineers and let them get on with it. ‘Fred from down the road’ often gets far too much voice on technical issues that he barely knows nothing about. Would you want Fred re-writing an aviation maintenance manual because he his a self proclaimed expert?

      5. I think that is pretty harsh on Sweden but a non-sequiter either way. Vision Zero, also called Safe Systems, has also worked very well in Holland and UK. I would say both of those societies have very strong liberal traditions. Together Holland, Sweden and UK have fatal crash rates which are less than half those in NZ. Social differences do not explain it.

  5. So many words used to not really say much at all.

    My favourite:

    “Research has shown that reducing your speed a little generally results in a very small increase in travel time.”

    Hahahahahahahahhaha! Who the heck funded that research?? Brilliant.

    This is just more of the same “lets just do lots of random things to try and make things safer and hope fewer people die.” There is nothing really new said here than wasn’t already in the Safe Systems approach. The vision isn’t new. None of those principles are new. The focus areas are nothing new, all the same from previous.

    I find it interesting that the estimated cost of crashes from 2020-2030 is $45 billion. So basically if you can’t achieve vision zero with $45 billion or less, then it is cheaper to just not bother. With diminishing returns it would get ridiculously expensive the closer you get to zero.

    It isn’t even a proper strategy. This is just a fancy plan. A true strategy is focusing limited resources into a few critical actions that magnify effort to overcome a very specific problem.

    You know what would be a fairly effective strategy. Speed limiters setting all private vehicles to 40 kmph max on public roads. Problem solved.

    $45 billion gives you $10k per registered vehicle in NZ to spend making it happen, even though it should only cost a couple hundred. It might cost $2 billion. Unless you want to get fancy with GPS tracking and going the whole hog with road user charges. Insane fines and instant loss of license for anyone flouting the law. Eliminate practically all crashes happening above that speed and you slash DSI. There is no human right to travel faster than that speed. No need to spend money on new infra. No need to try and educate the ignorant public. No need to have speed cameras or cops wasting time running around giving out tickets.

    One relatively simple action by the government could reap significant public benefit.

    It would probably also cut vehicle emissions by 10%, get people out of cars, promote EVs and rail.

    Now that is a strategy. Of course you’d need another strategy to deal with not getting voted out of government, lol.

    1. It does seem bizarre to me that one can legally own & operate a piece of machinery that can grossly exceed the speed limit. Shouldnt get a wof with the potential to travel well in excess of 100km/h. Political suicide probably with the ‘its my god given right to speed’ attitude prevalent here.

      1. It seems weird that bikes don’t come with any crash protection structure or requirements to even measure speed to me, for what it’s worth.

  6. Just like our gun laws are now being massively rethought, our road transport and licensing laws need a massive rethink as it also clear they are well past fit for purpose too.
    And newsflash – the government thinks the RMA is also in need of a complete rewrite too.

    And just as we all knew (deep down) that the current gun (and RMA) laws are actually not working for NZ Inc.

    The same applies here for road safety.

    The mantra for all these can no longer continue to be “Change the status quo over my dead body”.

    We need to change the whole premise of our entire transport system away from “My driving anywhere in a vehicle is a right” to “Driving or using a vehicle for any purpose is a privilege”.

    When you do that. The related change of perspective automatically means a whole raft of systemic changes will flow. The safer system (or whatever they call it now), will be a part of the mix. But not the whole answer.

    And like tidying up decades of lack of inaction and lax oversight with gun and environmental laws will take time and a whole of systemic changes to fix, so will our current roading mess need time to fix as well.

    But the status quo for all of them, simply cannot continue.

    1. Well said Greg. In terms of road design we also need to think more carefully about who we are designing roads for, and what sort of vehicles. We need to stop trucking companies thinking they can drive any size truck anywhere they like too. Really large trucks are incompatible with road geometry that maintains safe speeds for pedestrians and cyclists.

      So as well as design standards needing to change, we need to change what vehicle we design roads for. In places like Holland roundabouts are often the solution for pedestrian safety issues. But they design them for nothing bigger than a delivery van or garbage truck. Anything bigger must slow down and cross a mountable centre-island. They do not have large corner radii and circulating lane widths that allow hatchbacks to do 50-60 km/hr, at which speed they can still kill pedestrians and cyclists.

      We really need to re-educate a whole generation of road designers. When I first started working I was taught to design intersections for a standard design vehicle which was typically a semi-trailer.

  7. It’s the same strategy as the last one repackaged. That one failed because no targets were set.

    I note the Associate Minister last week said there would be no targets aside from the final 2030 DSI reduction target for this strategy either.

    Guess you can’t suffer the slings and arrows of accountability like kiwibuild if there are no measures to fail on.

    1. Or maybe 10-years is an appropriate medium-term timeline for the effects of changes to he measured? I mean if you adopt timelines that are too short-sighted then you risk (1) measuring statistical noise and/or (2) over-emphasising short-term measures at the expense of more effective long term measures.

      1. I can see the concern, but there are too many small deficiencies that could be easily fixed (even while the more long-term strategies are addressed) for me to believe short term targets would be ineffective.

        Small, perhaps seemingly trivial tasks, could make a big difference to injury rates even in the short term. Just a few I can think of:

        – some mobility parks have no way for wheelchair users to get from the footpath to the park;
        – the Journey Planner is directing people to walk in dangerous locations;
        – bike beg button operation and signage at key cyclist waiting locations is dangerous;
        – we need a purpose-made vehicle to sweep cyclepaths;
        – we need proactive enforcement of the parking rules.

      2. 10 years will be 4 (?) changes of government.

        Changing speeds is the most effective way to reduce the death rate and what’s wrong with lead indicator measures?

  8. I agree there may be merit in strengthening our driver licensing regime. However Don’s point is valid: even if our current system isn’t ideal it doesn’t seem to explain the differences in safety outcomes between NZ and Australia.

    1. There is absolutely no insight in crash analysis in respect of a person’s ability to drive, short of their actual qualifications to do so, their sobriety and the cars fitness, and on that one, only to a point. Car crashes are dealt with by cops quickly most of the time and the indepth reasons as to the cause, such as competency is never a factor, it simply does not assist a prosecution or a ticket to do so.

      In fact an idiot behind the wheel can cause a crash but not be involved but its exactly what happens leading up to a crash is all that matters to those actually involved. It is rare the overall competence of a driver is ever considered apart from very new young drivers. Older drivers are just not looked at in the same light.

      Therefore there is a massive void of information as to why crashes happen and comparing Aussie to us doesn’t help. It’s a country with a newer and therefore safer fleet, law enforcement for traffic is far beyond NZ in some states and it could be any number of other slight differences even down to sunshine hours. But 8n any case competency will be a factor there too.

      But being incompetent or competent behind the wheel of a motor vehicle, as with any other life threatening machine, is a massive factor in who lives or dies.

      1. Having spent a fair bit of time on a huge variety of Australian roads both driving and as a passenger to an Australian licenced driver, I certainly could not see any discernable difference in skill levels. What was apparent though was the stated expectation that infringements, especially speeding, were much more likely to result in being caught and subjected to meaningful penalty.

        1. In NZ it is taken as read, you have a drivers licence, therefore you are competent. That is simply not true.

        2. Right. That isn’t coincidence. Australian speed management policy was tightened up a lot in the 1990s. Previous practices of giving motorists some “leaway” above the posted limit were ceased, plus roll-out of seed cameras was increased, and fines issued. As a result adherence to posted speed improved a lot in urban areas. I would not pretend Australian drivers are any more skilled or willing to obey laws!

      2. Having also driven a lot and been driven a lot in the UK I could not discern any difference in skill levels. In the UK, and also in Europe it was apparent though that driving was not as competitive as in NZ. It was much more cooperative, cars were more seen as appliances to get from a to b, as comfortably as possible, with as little fuss as possible, and far less seen as an extension of a desired persona.

      3. You say it’s complicated and then pick out one factor (driver licensing) to harp on about!?!

        Like Don I’ve also lived in Australia and New Zealand and I don’t feel there’s a massive different in driver licensing regimes or overall driver competence.

        But you’re obviously an expert, given your aggressive bolshiness.

        1. Sorry to disagree Stu, people can you know, but if you think simply having a drivers license makes you safe then say hi to the Tooth Fairy for me.

        2. Waspy, The point is that many, or most probably most, comparable countries have a licencing regime very similar to that of New Zealand, for all of its deficiencies.
          I do not know any country that has routine retesting, except of the elderly. But we are somewhat of an an outlier in killing and injuring more people on our roads. The priority must surely be to identify and act on the things these other countries are doing better then us.

        3. I think there’s merit in retesting, Waspman, but what Vision Zero should be bringing to this discussion is the need to consider all the contributing factors, so they can all be improved.

          Which is why I hope Julie-Anne Genter made short shrift of Greg Murphy in his visit to her yesterday. He’s argued “Stop blaming the country’s roads and speed limits”.

          He has no evidence to support the idea that the country’s roads don’t need improvement. He has no evidence to support the idea that the speed limits are fine.

          So whereas he could have been a positive force in calling for better driving training and testing, his narrow argument is an unhelpful distraction. It lends support to the AA’s original purpose – which is to resist lower speed limits.

          And don’t forget that even how people drive is formed largely from how others are driving around them. Enforcement of rules, and responsible messaging from leaders and sector voices will be at least as important as licensing systems in bringing a better culture to our roads.

          When the rules state what a speed limit is, for example, the AA should not be able to get away with its messaging: “Over 60% of Members reported exceeding 110km/h in the past six months as part of an overtaking maneuver. On average Members set about 115km/h as an upper limit for overtaking. They also strongly believe Police should allow a 10km/h tolerance on passing lanes and multi-lane motorways.”

          The speed limit is a limit, not a guide, and an organisation such as the AA should not be given the airspace to promote breaking the law like this, even if their technique is to couch their ideas in the words of “what our members believe”.

        4. Don, we all have death and destruction on the roads but that none of us retest a; speaks for itself with the lacksidasical attitude to crashes and b; is no reason not to.

          Some professional “drivers” are routinely retested to ensure their skills are up to it, loco engineers, pilots, police, all others should be.

          I’m not alone in thinking this, Greg Murphy who knows more than I ever will on driving a motor vehicle at its limits has been saying it for years and going on another angle telling Julie Anne Genter similar.

        5. Waspman – for a regular re-testing regime to be successful it would need to achieve two things. Firstly identify poor drivers and secondly keep them off the roads.

          If poor drivers managed to pass a test first time round there is no reason they couldn’t again, it is just a snapshot of their driving ability when they know they are being watched. Even if they lost their licences there is no guarantee they will stop driving.

          I think there is merit in what you are saying but there is no guarantee of success, whereas putting a median barrier along a stretch of road known for fatal head on crashes will reduce the number of fatal crashes.

        6. One of the scariest drivers I have been passenger with, was a retired long serving high ranking British uniformed British policeman. Because he had done all the courses he honestly thinks his fast driving is safer then ordinary mortals slow driving. Always follows far to close to the car in front, and on one occasion lost adhesion on a blind bend simply by driving too fast.

        7. The Netherlands has a much lower road toll per capita than New Zealand.

          Q: Do most Dutch drivers periodically have to redo their driver test?
          A: No.

          And probably the same for most other countries over there, many of which also have a much lower road toll than us. The lack of periodic testing does not appear to be problematic.

        8. Roeland.

          Q; Do Dutch drivers driving in the Netherlands on their flat roads drive on New Zealand’s shitty course chip winding hilly roads?

          A: No

          Mate, comparing apples with lumps of coal tells us nothing!

        9. Yeah, the Dutch aren’t driving on roads with systematically unsafe speed limits, and being egged on by arrogant tailgaters either. Very different.

          Which indicates that a lot of safety comes down to speed limits, driving culture and road design. There’s a need for “driving skill”, but “driving a motor vehicle at its limits” is an indication of poor attitude, which is the biggest part of bad driving.

    2. Part of the differences could be the presence of unsafe vehicles on the road, as evidenced by the suspension of vehicle inspectors and retesting needed of various vehicles and trailers. Together with people corruptly gaining a licence as evidenced by the recent conviction of South Auckland driver examiners for fraudulently issuing passes for driving tests .

      That the punishments were not severe shows that both issues are not really regarded as a problem, despite the resultant deaths.

  9. NZ design standards are appalling low. The road to zero is only going to happen if the strategy ends up in real actions such as:

    1) introduce congestion tolls to that funding is diverted away from providing expensive infrastructure for peak traffic.

    2) Introduce new design standards for new infrastructure that require the time, space & speed separation of transport system users. This means that new main roads will need more than 20m as the minimum width to accommodate all modes (land use densities can increase to compensate): e.g:

    2a) approach based signal phasing with protected phases for car & cycles/pedestrians

    2b) off road cycle facilities (also sufficient space for scooters & pedestrians)

    2c) No priority junctions (stop/give way) on main roads. New main roads to be median divided

    2d) Priority junctions only on new local streets but have to have 30kmh speed limit and speed humps on all approaches

    2e) all main road / main road junctions to be signal or roundabout controlled. All new roundabouts to have speed humps and ped/cycle facilities

    3) retrofit all rural highways with median and side barriers (wire ropes mainly & solid where required) + widen shoulders for cyclists & emergency breakdowns + add passing lanes. Remove all SH priority intersections – make left in- left out or roundabout controlled (esp SH/SH junctions)

    4) drop the speed limit on rural roads and retrofit like rural SHs

    5) Require all upgrades of existing infrastructure to meet the new design standards

  10. I comment the NZ governmetn for introducing this policy, which needs actioning. In Australia the cost of road crashes and trauma is almost double the cost of road congestion, yet most of the transport capital expenditure is in capacity improvements to “solve” the latter. NZ has an even higher per capital crash rate so I am sure the imbalance would be as bad or worse.

    I also agree design standards need updating to incorporate the vision zero design philosophy. Austroads makes median wire rope barrier difficult to deploy even though it is one of the most effective treatments. It permits traffic signals in 80 km/h speed environments yet these are prohibited on safety grounds in Sweden.

    1. Hi Scott,

      In my current location we have traffic signals in 100kmh urban enviromments (rural are roundabouts).

      It works fine as there is a flashing green for about 3 seconds before the amber & red. This almost completely removes the dilemma zone for drivers.

      There are probably more rear end crashes (people stopping early on flashing green) here but definitely fewer of the more severe HA (right angle) crashes in the junctions.

      Also there is no parking on the main roads which provides much better sight distance and reduces situational complexity.

      1. Interesting, though I think that still leaves a huge risk as defined by the safe systems approach, which says you must design assuming people might make mistakes. I would be interested to know where that is and what the traffic volume and crash history is like. If somebody does go through a red signal at that speed the risk of a fatal collision is very high.

  11. I find it somewhat strange that this “strategy” is effectively a repeat of the previous strategy (given the previous one was based on the same “Vision Zero”) yet they are expecting a 40% reduction.

    The main differences I can see is that they are watering down the education component and increasing the enforcement to near police state levels with everything else staying the same.

    The primary issue with the previous strategy was that NZTA were the only ones who seemed to follow it with most councils giving it little attention due to cost, it will be interesting to see what is done to reduce DSI’s other than reduce the posted speed limits.

  12. Full hands on driver training is essential before any change will happen. Altering roads to allow for idiots is pointless, that same idiot will just find another excuse for why they crashed. But it now seems government policy to embrace minority noise makers while ignoring the true big problems affecting the majority in all aspects of our life.
    Here’s an excerpt from the Road to Zero document “The new strategy will replace the current Safer Journeys strategy, which ends at the end of this year.” That to me sounds like a government who’s failed miserably and wants to change the name and pretend they’re starting from scratch” ?

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