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Launch Of The 2010 Road Safety Strategy

Hon Mark Gosche Speech Notes

Kia Ora, Talofa Lava and Greetings to you all.

I'd like to welcome you all and thank you for being here with us today.

I'd also like to particularly thank John Tahuparae and Rose White for their blessing. Kia Ora rawa atu.

We are here to launch a strategy that will aim to save lives and make our roads safer for all New Zealanders.

2010 is a road safety strategy for New Zealand for the next ten years.

But, before we look forward to 2010 – we must first look back to 1990, and look back on the past ten years of road safety in New Zealand.

We've managed to drive the road toll down over the past few years and this proves that it can be done.

I'm glad the toll's reduced but I'm not prepared to applaud too loudly because it's just not good enough.

The past ten years have seen thousands of New Zealand families throughout the country bury loved ones killed in car crashes on our roads.

To be precise a shocking six thousand two hundred New Zealanders have died as a result of car crashes.

Six thousand two hundred mums and dads, sons and daughters who never made it home that day.

The number of people killed on our roads since 1990 is equal to the size of a small town like Carterton.

It's pretty sobering.

But what is clear – is that this carnage is unacceptable, unacceptable not just to this Government, but unacceptable, to all New Zealanders.

Those dying on our roads are dying needlessly because the overwhelming majority of road crashes are preventable. They can be avoided.

If we are to make our roads safer – Government cannot do this alone.

We need buy in from all New Zealanders.

2010 recognises this and next week we will kick off a series of consultation forum throughout the country. We want to hear what New Zealanders have to say on how to make our roads safer and how to save lives.

2010 sets a blueprint for road safety for next ten years. It puts forward a realistic, achievable goal that we can work to, and sets out options for reaching that goal.

Historically, we have tended to concentrate on improving individual driver behaviour and improving the standard of safety of our vehicle fleet.

As I mentioned earlier – we have made safety gains.

The safety of our vehicle fleet has been progressively upgraded since we began accepting American, Japanese, European and Australian standards in the early 1990s.

Alcohol related crashes have nearly halved in the last five years from 2300 in 1995 to 1200 last year.

In 1987, 795 people were killed on our roads. This year we hope to get below 500 fatalities.

But car crashes are still killing 500 people each year and hospitalising 6000 more.

We still have a long way to go to match the safest countries in the world where road users currently enjoy twice the level of safety that we do here.

2010 asks the hard questions. What level of safety on our roads should we be satisfied with? How should we reach that level of safety? And what are we prepared to pay for it?

It puts forward the case for matching the safety records of the safest countries by 2010.

In real terms, we want to halve the road toll and save around 200 lives a year.

To do this we will not presume that one approach will suit all road users.

We will target cyclists, pedestrians, children, older drivers, teenagers, young males – because each road user group has specific issues that need to be addressed.

Why? Because the research tells us that this is best way of getting our road safety message across.

We are also looking at setting regional targets and will assist communities to work towards tangible safety goals.

It is of course very easy to agree that we want more safety, but how are we going to achieve it?

Three options are presented in a way that focuses debate on the direction we want to take.

One option focuses on enforcement as the means to reach our desired level of safety. Taking this approach would mean tough new laws.

The government has already committed 225 additional Police to the new State Highway Patrol, which we plan to launch in December. There is no room for let up against drivers who engage in high-risk behaviour, but Police enforcement is just one part of the picture.

Another option focuses on road engineering. Taking this approach would mean significant additional roading costs. New roading investment would also result in reduced travel times, increased comfort and reduced vehicle operating costs.

The third option presents a mixture of these two types of safety measure.

But whether it is an enforcement or an engineering road we take, education must be vital to everything we do.

Education is not just about teaching road safety in schools. It is about making drivers and other road users both risk averse and informed. That way we not only want to avoid risk, but know how to go about it.

2010 is not a prescriptive document. It sets out a scenario for making our roads safer for New Zealanders over the next ten years, and allows us to consider the core trade-offs in getting there.

Yes, cost will be an issue but if we can agree on the principles first, perhaps then we can debate how best to pay for them.

The choices are ours and the launch of this road safety proposal starts the process of discussion and debate that the National Road Safety Committee and the Government wishes to have with as wide a range of community interests as possible.

Over the next five weeks, there will be 15 regional meetings around the country, and a number of discussions with representatives from local government, the roading industry, Maori and Pacific communities, and others.

I'd like to encourage all road users to come along and have your say.

New Zealanders are dying on New Zealand roads.

And New Zealanders are the only ones who are going to be able to make this change over the next ten years.

Ia Manuia.

ENDS

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