This post by Matt was originally published in July 2019

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. Good to see such a chance. But , let change your mindset first, otherwise, just waste another time again and again. What to charge?

    NZ is not the best in the world. NZer need to admit they are not superior than others.

    If those who administrator this project of ZERO , than there’s a chance to success.

  2. Rather than spending millions of dollars on childish television ads, they could actually spend that money on making the roads safer.

    For a starter, they could use tar with a higher melting point so we don’t have roads that are extremely dangerous to drive on where there is bleeding tar (flushing).

    1. And Taupo bypass esque infra. Its almost perfect, just needed median barriers. Alas.
      Europe is getting quite good at these kinds of things as well (again no median barriers grrr):

      There’s simply no need for through traffic to go through small towns, Sanson, Bulls, Taihape etc. If someone was going to stop then they’ll stop anyway and go in. And people that don’t can not make the town loud and fumey. Also no need for major intersections on the state highway network to be dangerous T junctions either.

      So much can (and should) be done for the rural SH network, on roads that will never justify or support a full expressway bypass.

  3. The right rule on the road sometimes causes problems I noticed. If I take the turn which should be mine I always watch carefully as many times the one that goes needs to stop for me.
    What I noticed is Dads etc teaching young ones to drive, taking on their mistakes in rules. It should be law if you get your licence it must be by a driving school certificate like overseas.

    1. I much prefer the “safe system” branding / idea, combined with pushing the idea that speeds are a big part of the the system.

  4. The safest transport modes for the user are public transport modes – bus and rail.
    The least dangerous transport modes for other people are walking and cycling. Taller, heavier SUVs are more dangerous in a crash than cars.

    Mode shift away from cars towards public transport and active modes would contribute towards both of these outcomes. The safest car journey is the one that you don’t make.

    So, three years later, where is the mode shift plan? And where is the strategy to wean NZ off SUVs?

  5. 1) We need a mandatory vision zero / carbon zero design standard for new transport infrastructure – we wont get to vision zero without it.

    2) Then a mandatory vision zero/carbon zero retrofit and improvement standard for the existing network (the hard part as 20m wide corridors do require trade offs)

    We dont need 60 odd road controlling authorities and developers implementing their own designs bound only by guidelines.

  6. “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.”

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