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Road Safety Policy Costing Lives

1 May 2002

"Transport Minister Mark Gosche must explain why he rejected a proposal that would have dramatically cut the annual road toll," says National's Transport spokesperson Belinda Vernon.

Ms Vernon says the Auditor General's report: 'Bringing Down the Road Toll: the Speed Camera Programme' reveals that in February 2000, the Government rejected a plan to introduce hidden speed cameras.

"This is in spite of advice that it would cut the road toll significantly.

"Extending the programme nationwide was estimated to save 30 lives a year. The Auditor General's report also highlights that New Zealand's experience with speed cameras is not as good as some other countries and that changes in the way speed cameras are deployed could improve their effectiveness.

Ms Vernon says saving lives is what a road safety policy should be all about, plain and simple.

"While hidden speed cameras are not the most popular road safety enforcement tool, if they achieve such results, they could be one of the most effective.

She says this move contrasts starkly with the Government's decision to introduce a frontal impact rule.

"This restricted the types of cars able to be imported into New Zealand on the basis that it would save an average of four lives per year for 18 years - even though it could cost lives in the short term. This has caused havoc in the car industry and will cause car prices to increase sharply.

"By contrast, extending the hidden speed camera trial would have cost motorists travelling within the speed limit nothing and potentially saved far more lives.

"This report confirms the Government's approach to road safety lacks consistency and logic. Being Minister means making tough calls not those that might provide short term popularity," Ms Vernon concluded.


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