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Safer Roads – 2010 Road Safety Strategy

Saving lives and making New Zealand roads safer is the main aim of the 2010 Road Safety Strategy launched by Transport Minister Mark Gosche today.

"The strategy is about saving lives and making our roads safer for all New Zealanders," he said.

"Government cannot do this alone – we must work in partnership with New Zealanders everywhere."

"The strategy is about what we as a country want to do about road safety over the next ten years."

While the road toll has steadily decreased in recent years Mr Gosche said he wouldn't be applauding too loudly because New Zealand's road toll figures were still shocking.

"Since 1990 6,200 New Zealanders have been killed in car crashes on our roads.

New Zealand still lags behind developed countries whose roads are twice as safe as ours and we want to match their safety records."

"Before we commit to anything we want to hear from New Zealanders about how we are going to make our roads safer."

The first stage in the 2010 campaign is a nationwide consultation process taking place throughout the country during October and November.

"It recognises that Government must work in partnership with communities throughout the country. We want New Zealanders talking about road safety and how we can end the pointless trauma on our roads."

The 2010 strategy includes a range of options for road users to consider.

"We all need to consider what we want our strategy to look like and how we are prepared to pay for it."

The proposals are not government policy but represent a list of options developed by the National Road Safety Committee based on years of research and experience.

"Now is the time for people to make their submissions on road safety so their views can be considered by government when developing New Zealand's strategy for the next ten years."

Ends

Media Questions and Answers on 2010
Why do we need a Strategy?
 We need a road safety Strategy to give us a better level of road safety to aim for and provide us with direction. If we are not all striving towards the same end by the same means, we will not get the greatest possible benefits from our efforts to reduce road trauma.
 Our current strategic direction for road safety is included in the National Road Safety Plan 1995, which set injury and fatality targets to December 2001. The proposed Road Safety Strategy 2010 puts forward targets to 2010, and these targets will reflect the strategic direction that the government wishes us to take over the next 10 years.

Did we meet the targets set in 1995?
 The 1995 targets specified no more than 460 fatalities in 1999 whereas there were 509 fatalities. Additional enforcement and education resources committed by the government this year mean we are likely to achieve the 2001 target of no more than 420 fatalities.

Where does the government stand?
 The government wants to see a sustained reduction in road trauma over the next decade, and fully supports the impetus to road safety provided by this proposal. It is important that the public is consulted on the proposal to ensure that the government implements a road safety Strategy that reflects what people want.

What is the proposed goal?
 We are proposing that New Zealand aims for a level of road safety by 2010 that is equivalent with “current world’s best practice”. This means we are proposing to bring New Zealand’s road safety performance by 2010 up to the same level already experienced by the safest countries in the world in 1999/2000.
 Road users in the safest countries currently enjoy a transport system twice as safe as our own. Over the next ten years we would catch up to where they are now. This goal is both ambitious and achievable.
 By 2010 the safest countries now will almost certainly have further improved. By bringing New Zealand in 2010 up to today’s world best safety performance, we shall find it easier to aim for the world’s best practice after that.

How will we ensure the new Strategy works?
 The final Strategy will have a range of targets to help track our progress over the next 10 years towards our overall goal. We will set new fatality and serious injury targets for 2003, 2007 and 2010. These will be our final outcome targets.


What other targets are proposed?
 We propose setting specific regional targets to assist the community’s road safety effort by providing tangible safety goals to aim for. We also propose setting targets for alcohol, speed and restraints which will enable us to see how individual road safety interventions are working.
 Targets could also be developed over time for the standard of the vehicle fleet, and the physical condition of the road network.


What choices do we have for reaching the proposed goal?
 We have identified three main options for improving road safety in New Zealand:
 an enforcement option that would place an emphasis on enforcing safer individual behaviour;
 an engineering option that would place an emphasis on engineering a safer road environment; and
 a mixed option that would combine elements of both the enforcement and engineering options.

In all these options education would continue to play a key role

What place does education have in the proposed Strategy?
 The government has recently doubled the community education programme, and joined the Australian New Car Assessment Programme to provide consumers with better new car safety information.
 Whether it is school or community based, or focussed on driver training, industry, consumers, or the public at large, education is part of everything we do in road safety.
Without road safety education, most interventions would be harder to introduce and their effectiveness much diminished.

What about vehicle safety?
 Improved vehicle safety standards that are already in place are likely to make a significant contribution to a reduction in road trauma over the next decade.
 Since we accepted the standards promulgated by USA, Japan, Europe and Australia, our vehicle standards are in line with some of the best overseas practice, and the vehicle fleet is being progressively renewed to higher standards of safety.

Will the strategy cost more than we’re currently paying?
 The government wants to improve road safety in New Zealand but further safety improvements will come at a cost. It is important within the consultation process that people get an understanding of the implications of pursuing a higher level of safety and the different approaches that we can adopt to improve road safety.
 The government is very conscious of the potential costs of improving road safety and is seeking public comment on the best path forward. If New Zealand wants a safer roading system, it comes with costs attached. The issue is what kind of costs and what are we prepared to pay.

What are we hoping to achieve from consultation?
 The consultation process is designed to seek feedback and opinions on the overall goal or level of ambition for road safety for 2010 and on the options or pathways for attaining that level of safety.
 It is also intended that consultation will identify tasks and issues to be resolved and related implementation milestones needed in order to realise the overall goal for road safety.
 We want New Zealanders to consider what level of safety we should seek for road safety, and what would be the best mix of initiatives, including the associated social or financial costs, to achieve that level of safety.

What are the key questions for people to consider?
 What level of road safety do we want to reach over the next ten years?
 What specific safety targets do we want defined?
 How do we want to reach that level of safety?
 What are we prepared to pay, either in terms of financial cost, or greater personal restrictions?

What happens next?
 15 regional meetings have been organised throughout New Zealand. As well, invitations will be made for specific discussions with Maori and Pacific peoples, other government agencies, and significant transport interests.
 There will be some advertising for the regional meetings, and supporting brochures and posters to inform New Zealanders of the consultation process.
 Formal submissions close on 22 December. A report on the consultation process will be prepared for the government to consider as it makes decisions on the final Strategy.

Isn’t the government’s new road safety package enough?
 The government’s new road safety initiatives (State Highway Patrol, community education and new car testing information) were intended to get our road safety performance back on track. They represent good steps forward, and we hope to fall below 500 fatalities on our roads this year. More can be done to make the roading environment safer for all road users.

Why doesn’t the government just get tougher with the people who are causing the crashes?
 Tough new sanctions introduced last year allow Police to take action against serious and repeat offenders on the roadside. The 28 day vehicle impoundment law has corresponded with a significant drop in the number of disqualified drivers being taken to court. Police report a 38% reduction in offences detected for driving while disqualified compared to same period in the previous year. This reduction is important because disqualified drivers figure disproportionately in crash statistics. In fact they cause one in ten fatal road crashes.
 The enforcement emphasis option presented in the proposed Strategy envisages further tough measures for New Zealand road users. But no matter how tough our enforcement measures become, enforcement alone is not the full answer to solving the road safety problem.

Have you taken account of the wider benefits of public transport, walking and cycling?
 The government has recently announced changes to public transport funding arrangements which could see more funding being made available for public transport, depending on patronage.
 Public transport is safer on a per kilometre travelled basis than private car travel, but it is not expected that within the lifetime of the road safety Strategy the shift will be significant enough to fundamentally relieve congestion or improve safety. Public transport is more likely to be effective over a much longer timeframe.
 Cycling and walking will also feature in the New Zealand Transport Strategy work. They are important features of our transport system and we are studying how to improve their safety in a cost effective way.

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