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Ring fencing of Road Safety - Global alert

Ring fencing of Road Safety - Global alert
Media Release, Candor Trust

The appointment to the NZTA of Paul Fitzharris is ill advised say the Candor Trust. His background with Land Transport and the National Road Safety Committee should immediately reduce confidence, given the agencies non performance and dogged commitment to inhumane research on humans.

These agencies have participated in a sensitive controversial National road safety experiment, one hurriedly implemented after an extraordinary meeting of the National Road Safety Committee circa 2001. Debate over merits of it's application was fierce. It is one of 3 models being trialed in different countries. NZ's short straw grab "the Road Police Resource Allocation Model - Safety Management system 1B" (RAM) is irrevocably failing. But the rort is is now being exported to Vietnam and 9 African lands, with ex Officials consulting.

The model/social experiment has been found by Government in 3 seperate reviews to be fundamentally flawed and basicly incapable of producing the desired (or any) road safety improvement by 2010. The content of internal Ministry of Transport reviews in 2005 actually revealed that the greater the dose of the experiment interventions applied on road, the more people may be killed. Yet Government has continually increased the dose, with the increased fatalities Candor predicted (RNZ news, Boxing day) resulting.

The 2005 reviews showing inefficacy of the core formula behind the RAM experiment atop a long trend for increasing serious injuries ought to have led the National Road Safety Committee to anticipate a "share price plummet" in it's business. Candor asserts the plug hasn't been pulled because the dual policy aim of the experiment has succeeded, albeit at great cost to life. The revenue from quotas has enabled an expanded Police force - which the World Bank which has claims may up foreign investment confidence.

"World Bank safety management system 1B - NZ enforcement option" boils down to the use of a mathematical formula used within a computer program which LTSA helped develop. It appears to churn out target offence hours that are tied to "benchmark" quotas for speeding, drink driving, non seatbelt wearing and intersection running for the 12 police districts (Jones, Effective and efficient Road Policing, 2005).

Ministry of Transport papers reveal the formula within the computer program is supposed to predict, via some assumed link with the "intermediate outcomes" (reduced speeds etc), each area's fatality numbers. But per the internal reviews it doesn't, per the "control charts" used for evaluation in each Police district it doesn't. And as supported by various independent reports the approach lacks validity and any evidence base.

Highway patrol hours dedicated to ever increasing quotas rose from 200,000 in 2003 to over 350,00 this year.The result has been stasis in fatality trends and a 3% yearly growth in serious injuries + less than a 1% decrease in crash social costs on State Highways. The Duignan report showed the extreme effort successfully put into speed reduction over several recent years reduced speed related fatalities by only 0.08%, similar figures apply to increased drink driver quotas. Total crash societal costs have risen (medium term) from 3 to 4 Billion.

Candor understands the overconfident formula promoters never had it passed by any ethics committee. Internal e-mails acquired reveal sordid and callous discussions among key Ministry "experimenters". In 2006 one recommended that the Government road safety taskforce could just "ignore" the (road safety) results produced by the system, and made clear that termination of the trial was not an option

The World Banks lead Transport lender to low income lands and ex LTSA project developer may still steer the experiment. He has demonstrably set out to subvert democratic processes to better enable implementation. A World Bank document written by this experiment founder, dated 2007 after model failure was apparent, contains a checklist of what has occurred in New Zealand. This included ensuring that Select Committees. Legislators and Managerial structures were "focussed on the desired results." when making legislation or otherwise active.The results are not defined as toll reductions. But instead as the set intermediate outcomes (key performance indicators), which are well demonstrated to have no connection to toll reductions.

Consequently the Transport select committee is only bombarded with info regarding the desired intermediate outcomes (within system 1B) of reducing speeds and drink driver numbers. Balanced info about the full road safety picture is not forthcoming to them. The apparent objective of ring fencing issues and herding power structures to prop up the experiment was primarily achieved by using the same "apparatuses of capture" totalitarian States favour. Members of all Government bodies on the National Road Safety Committee are required to sign a secrecy agreement about NRSC work, preventing community consultation. The agreement also prohibits them from promoting or acting on non approved road safety issues.

Hence Police, Councils etc can only talk speed or alcohol bigtime to Select Committees or other audiences, regardless of the business at hand. Also briefing papers from advisors are likely to be required to overstress the importance of addressing speed & alcohol and downplay other issues. One of the experiment criteria expressed in an attached policy, misleadingly termed "Greatest Enforceable Risks," is that all Institutions must suppress public knowledge about other than the targeted risks ie the majority of human factor risks in crashes are forbidden from gaining high impact awareness campaigns.

The policy of road safety issue suppression is creating a clearcut and publicly obvious situation of misfired resource usage. Overkill in some areas and massive neglect of others, resulting in public ignorance of major risks. Against local evidence of any big speed mallet efficacy, "speed" with a 30M budget is made the main thrust, and "alcohol" is alloted 10M this year. In recent years the ballpark is that 18% of serious crashes involve illegal speed (usually a result of inexperience or alcohol), and 12-20% may have alcohol as the primary factor, with a large overlap.

13-25% are attributable to fatigue which has only received a 2M budget, Incomplete analyses indicate that drugs constitute around 16% of dead driver tolls (after attribution discounts). Distractions feature at 8-13% - low budget. Drugged, drowsy and inattentive driving are detrimentally marginalised - by exclusion from the "intermediate outcome" goals, and resultant publicity bans.

Candor believe it is unlikely the policy trade off; sacrificing road safety values in order to fund increased general police numbers is one that an informed public would consent to. An ethics expert from Harvard University has advised that if Candor Trust's assessment of the NZ's road toll quagmire is correct, the experiment can be objected to on important ethical grounds. But "unfortunately" no international agency exists that can hold the World Bank or the NZ Government accountable.

Accordingly, Candor believes it is up to Labour to tidy it's act and dissociate from the World Bank research project, which sees 200 more Kiwis killed yearly than is necessary. It must debride the rot undermining democratic process, and burn the formula that destroyed road safety to a cinder. Government should furthermore avoid making appointments of any-one to the NZTA , who presents with hands potentially soiled from involvement with the RAM. It could well be described as a Mengelian experiment..


ENDS

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