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Road Safety

National MP Roger Sowry needs to check his own party’s track record on road safety before wrongly accusing the Government of ‘dropping the ball' in terms of road safety, Transport Minister Mark Gosche said today.

Mr Sowry commented today on an independent report that alleged drink driving convictions of 18-19 year old drivers had risen since the lowering of the drinking age last year.

‘We have not been given the opportunity to read this report and will be in a better position to comment on it once we have,’ said Mr Gosche.

Last year Mr Gosche did not support legislation to lower the drinking age.

‘But before he attacks our record Mr Sowry needs to check his own Government's track record on road safety and it is not a shining one.’

‘Despite a rising road toll the previous government did not increase road safety education spending for nearly two entire terms,’ he said.

‘As part of last year’s budget we boosted road safety education spending for the first time in six long years.’

The spending was part of a new $152 million plus road safety package that focuses on a greater emphasis on driver education.

The package included a new Highway Patrol; stricter enforcement of speeding and seatbelt rules and more compulsory breath testing.

‘We also doubled the money previously available for community driver initiatives because it had been neglected for many years.’

’By working on a range of fronts we believe these measures will significantly reduce the road toll and the rate of injury New Zealanders suffer on our roads.’

‘Already we have witnessed the lowest road toll our country has seen in 36 years.’

"We believe the way to reduce road trauma is multi-pronged approach which must include education and enforcement. We need to educate drivers to change their attitudes and at the same time we need to make sure that there is high profile enforcement, to catch those drivers who insist on continuing to offend".

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