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Minister Welcomes AA’s Road Safety Call

Hon Harry Duynhoven
Minister for Transport Safety

21 October 2008
Media Statement

Minister Welcomes AA’s Road Safety Call

Minister for Transport Safety, Harry Duynhoven, welcomes the AA’s call for increased commitment to road safety. The AA has identified 10 policies it would like to see implemented during the term of the next government.

“Road safety is critical to this government’s transport policies and I’m pleased to say that we are making significant progress on most of the AA’s policies.

“Not least of these are the changes to the Graduated Driver Licensing System, a continued commitment to education campaigns and funding a range of activities from SADD to roading improvements.

“By identifying 10 key policies, the AA rightly acknowledges that no single measure can provide the complete answer to reducing the road toll. If New Zealanders want to cut the number of deaths and injuries on the roads, it will take a collaborative effort - engineering improvements, further education and tougher enforcement,” the Minister said today.

“I look forward to cross party support on many of these policies, including the Land Transport (Driver Licensing) Bill, which proposes an increase to the driver age.

"This government is committed to reducing the road toll and I look forward to working with the AA to this end,” says Harry Duynhoven.

Note: a detailed response to each of the 10 policies is set out below

1. Enact the proposed changes to the Graduated Driver Licensing System
The government has agreed to changes which will see young and novice drivers facing a more robust and lengthy Graduated Driver Licensing System. The changes all require legislative amendments which are to be progressed through a Driver Licensing Amendment Rule and Land Transport Amendment Bill (No 5). Both the Amendment Rule and Bill are currently being drafted. In addition, the Land Transport (Driver Licensing) Bill, which proposes an increase to the driver age, was with the Select Committee before the Parliament ceased and is expected to be carried on by the next government.

2. Increase public education of the dangers of fatigue, distraction, mobile phones, and improve cycle awareness
Fatigue: Driver fatigue is a key priority for the Police/NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) road safety advertising and enforcement campaign, including television advertising. The budget for driver fatigue advertising in 2008/09 is $2.2million.
The television advertising campaign is part of a wider series of ongoing and planned initiatives aimed at raising public awareness of the dangers of driving while ‘tired’. These include:
• ‘Driver Reviver Stops’, which are co-ordinated by ACC and provide safe stopping places for drivers along the State Highway network
• ‘Managing Fatigue’ workshops and associated workplace resources developed by NZTA for at-risk groups, such as shift workers and commercial drivers
• The Commercial Drivers Fatigue Management Project developed NZTA to educate heavy vehicle drivers and their employers about driver fatigue
• The ‘Your Safe Driving Policy’ resource developed by NZTA to provide general information to the public about safe driving practices, including how to manage fatigue.
Driver Distraction: NZTA is implementing a range of awareness raising measures to assist with communicating the risks of driver distraction to the public. These include encouraging employers to address the risks of distraction when implementing safe driving policies, addressing driver distraction through the Automobile Association’s Defensive Driving Course, expanding information on distraction in the Road Code and incorporating driver distraction questions and information into driver licence theory tests.
The Road Safety Trust is embarking on a pilot advertising campaign this month to help raise public awareness of the issue of distractions while driving.
The Trust’s campaign uses the innovative medium of linking distraction messages to sporting codes - initially basketball and cricket. The key premise is to promote messages that will be associated clearly with the consequences that a couple of seconds of inattention can cause both on the sports field and while driving.
The campaign's primary message, “Keep your eyes on the action”, will be promoted through targeted sponsorship and advertising, the use of court or pitch-side branding and even on umpires’ and referees’ shirts.
NZTA supports the Trust’s campaign with advertising addressing the risks of driver distraction.
In addition, the Road User Amendment Rule proposes to ban the use of hand-held cellphones while driving (effectively making texting while driving illegal).
Cycling: The walking and cycling allocation has increased from 2007/08 to match anticipated growth in demand. NZTA has set aside an allocation of $18.0 million in 2008/09 programme for funding walking and cycling projects, an increase from the 2007/08 allocated budget of $14.5 million.
The allocation for 2008/09 includes provision of $14.5 million for local roads and $3.5 million for state highways. This allocation is effectively doubled when the walking and cycling components incorporated into many roading projects are included.
Safe cycling is also promoted through resources such as:
 Cycle network and route planning guide - aims to promote a consistent approach to planning the provision for cycling in New Zealand.
 Cyclist skills training - a guide for the set-up and delivery of cyclist training in New Zealand.
 Neighbourhood accessibility planning - a programme designed to help councils improve walking and cycling access and safety in communities where pedestrians and cyclists are shown to be at high risk of injury.
 New Zealand walking and cycling strategies – best practice guidelines.

3. Ban the use of hand-held mobile phones and texting when driving
A Government proposal to ban the use of hand held cellphones while driving was released for public consultation in September 2008 as part of the Land Transport Road User Amendment Rule. Submissions closed on 15 October and are now being analysed. A final draft Rule will be provided to Transport Ministers for consideration. If agreed to, the revised Rule is planned to be submitted to the Minister towards the middle of 2009.
4. Support young driver education by funding the Practice, Students Against Driving Drunk (SADD) and keys2drive programmes
Practice programme – NZTA currently funds the programme up to $260,000 this financial year with ACC contributing up to $460,000. Practice is currently being redeveloped and will be re-launched in April 2009.

Students Against Driving Drunk - NZTA is currently supporting SADD by providing funding after the Road Safety Trust ceased funding it late last year. NZTA has commissioned an evaluation of SADD that is currently being undertaken by Health Outcomes International, after which time funding options will be considered.

Keys2 drive programme - This is an Australian programme that has yet to be piloted. NZTA have indicated it will be interested to see the results of the pilot.

5. Increase the maximum jail term for drink driving and reckless driving causing death from 5 to 10 years and introduce vehicle interlocks for repeat drink driving offenders
The Ministry of Transport regularly reviews penalties for such offences however; there is no evidence to suggest doubling the amount of prison time will deter repeat drink driving offenders from getting behind the wheel. Last week, the Minister of Transport, Annette King, signed off a paper which will allow officials to develop an implementation plan for alcohol interlocks in New Zealand, and also conduct a thorough review of Section 65 (the indefinite disqualification). These two recommendations followed a Cabinet request in July to investigate the feasibility of alcohol interlocks.
6. Increase public awareness of the Australasian New Car Assessment Programme (ANCAP) crash test results, the safety benefits of Electronic Stability Control (ESC), side curtain airbags and correct tyre maintenance
The NZTA and AA are full members of ANCAP and jointly promote the results of ANCAP crash testing. In addition NZTA spend more than $100,000 per year on targeted advertising promoting awareness of crash test results and the ANCAP programme.
In addition to this, NZTA will this year spend $1.5 million on advertising promoting vehicle safety, including Electronic Stability Control (ESC)l, side curtain airbags and correct tyre maintenance. Measures such as ESC are being promoted internationally and New Zealand will benefit from this over time.

7. Refuse to compromise vehicle safety standards for electric cars and alternative vehicles
There has been a keen interest shown by a number of vehicle manufacturers to bring electric powered vehicles to New Zealand. Indication to date is that these vehicles will be based on international standards already accepted by New Zealand.
8. Publish KiwiRAP safety star-ratings for the entire state highway network and prioritise spending on safety
KiwiRAP safety ratings were published earlier this year. New star ratings will be jointly published by the AA, the Ministry of Transport, NZTA and the Police when all State highway data has been collected.
9. Fund targeted safety work, including installing median barriers, rumble strips and removing roadside hazards such as trees and poles, to make roads more forgiving in crashes
The level of funding for roading has increased over recent years. The reallocation of funding streams needs to be carefully considered. To redirect funding priorities from one area to another means that some may end up with reduced funding

10. Amend the right-turn give way rule
Changes to the current rule would have major implications for the driving public. One significant factor which needs to be taken into account is the increased risk of crashes. This highlights the importance of being cautious in making any changes in the future especially given increasing traffic flows.


ENDS

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