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Concern Over Bounce-Back In Road Toll

27 February 2001

Concern Over Bounce-Back In Road Toll On Eve Of Driver Education Conference

Road safety campaigners will meet in Wellington this week (subs Thursday 1 and Friday 2 March) in an atmosphere of concern about a big bounce-back in the road toll.

A spate of open road crashes, four of which claimed three lives each, had by 7.00 a.m. today (Tuesday 27) helped push the road toll to 80 deaths, against just 58 at the same time last year.

AADEF chairman, Rob Lester said continually telling drivers not to speed and awarding higher fines for speeding is obviously not working.

"On Thursday and Friday we are going to look at international trends, the local situation, and endeavour to show that there are ways to address the problem, other than higher fines and shock horror television campaigns.

"An LTSA survey conducted in May and June last year and released today (27 February) may show the public is more aware of speeding, drink-driving and seatbelts, but the delivery of the messages is resulting in the road toll just getting higher. This is a case of actions needing to speak louder than words.

"Would the same survey questions asked today, with the road toll increasing as it is, get the same response?" asked Rob Lester.

Preliminary analysis of the crash causes will give delegates to the AA Driver Education Foundation (AADEF) conference strong backing for their continuing efforts to improve driver skills and attitudes.

According to the LTSA, the vast majority of the deaths resulted from mistakes by drivers. Among the open road crashes, which accounted for 65 deaths (81 percent), 27 were from head-on collisions and 26 were from single vehicles losing control.

Speed was identified by police attending accidents as directly contributing to 20 deaths with alcohol identified in a further eight deaths and fatigue also with eight deaths.

Meanwhile a factor in six deaths was failing to give way At least 14 killed were not wearing safety belts. Police estimated seven of these would have lived if they had been restrained. Nearly one third of the deaths so far this year have been in crashes involving a truck.

Rob Lester says the conference couldn't be more timely.

"The whole issue of road crashes and the cost of road trauma to the community needs to be looked from a fresh perspective. We have to develop safer driving initiatives - the current situation cannot continue."

Among the line-up of speakers at the conference will be Briton David Silcock, an adviser to the World Bank's global road safety partnership, which is working to limit the huge cost to the world economy of road trauma, estimated at $1160 billion a year.

Ken Smith, a Fellow of the Australian College of Road Safety, will speak of how Australia, already much better performing in road safety than New Zealand, aims to cut road trauma by a further 40% over the next 10 years.

Dr Will Murray, visiting research fellow at the Queensland Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety, will comment on his UK research showing company car drivers as twice as likely to be in a collision as the general driving population and argue that already licensed drivers need to be regularly assessed on their skills and attitudes.

The AADEF was formed in 1996 by the Automobile Association with the specific aim of improving the standard of driving in New Zealand.

The Foundation draws from a wide range of expertise with board members including representatives from: Toyota New Zealand, BMW New Zealand, the Insurance Council; Manukau Urban Maori Authority; the Motoring Writers Guild; the Accident Compensation Corporation and the Automobile Association.


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