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Preliminary campaign results show road safety gains

Preliminary campaign results show significant road safety gains

Preliminary analysis of Police's recent two month enforcement of a reduced speed threshold has shown a significant drop in the proportion of drivers exceeding the 100km/h speed limit, alongside a record low number of road deaths.

As part of the Safer Summer campaign, Police, supported by ACC, the Ministry of Transport, the NZ Transport Agency, and the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA), strictly enforced a 4km/h reduced speed threshold between 1 December 2013 and 31 January 2014. It was the longest period the 4km/h threshold had been in place since being introduced for all holiday periods in 2010, and was accompanied by a national media and advertising campaign.

"Analysis of the speed data gathered by Police from the Safer Summer period shows that with a reduced speed threshold in place throughout both December and January, the proportion of drivers observed speeding at more than 100km/h was 36-51 per cent lower than during the previous four summers," National Manager Road Policing, Superintendent Carey Griffiths, said.

"When broken down further, the proportion of drivers exceeding 104 km/h also dropped by 47–62 per cent compared with the previous four years, while the proportion of those exceeding 110km/h fell by 43–60 per cent. Whichever way you look at it, that's a substantial reduction and due credit goes to all those drivers and our officers who played their part to make it happen."

Mr Griffiths said analysis of vehicle mean speeds at survey sites during the period had also fallen by a statistically significant 0.5-1.5km/hr, compared to the same period in the previous four years. “This doesn’t sound like a lot, but when you multiply it over millions of journeys it makes a big difference. This is backed by international evidence, which tells us that for every kilometre per hour that we reduce mean speeds, there is a corresponding four per cent reduction in fatalities, which is huge."

Additionally, during December 2013 and January 2014, there was a 26% reduction in road deaths compared with the same period the previous year – the lowest since monthly records began – while 2013 marked the lowest road toll in 60 years.

Mr Griffiths said while as expected Police had issued a higher number of speeding infringements during the summer due to increased traffic volumes and the extended 4km/h threshold period, encouragingly, the vast majority were for lower level speeding.

Analysis of notice volumes from Police's 45 mobile speed cameras over December and January shows that per hour of operation, notices issued for speeds of more than 110 km/hr fell by 48–60 per cent, compared to the same period the three previous years. The significant majority of notices issued were for those breaking the speed limit by 5–10km/hr.

"While Police would prefer not to issue any infringements, the fact that most people were ticketed in the 5-10km/hr bracket, and not at higher speeds, indicates that more and more drivers are slowing down. It shows that our enforcement of the reduced threshold, alongside targeted advertising, social media promotion and other initiatives, is motivating more and more drivers to change their driving behaviour for the better, which has massive safety benefits for the country as a whole.

"But the most important statistic was the decline in road deaths for the summer period. Although 42 lives lost is nothing to celebrate, it is heartening that this was the lowest number ever recorded for those two months, and 15 less than the same period for the previous year. Early indications are that serious injuries also declined significantly during the same period, and we look forward to that data being available soon."

NZ Transport Agency Road Safety Director Ernst Zollner said the results were encouraging. "Safer Speeds are a focus in the government’s current Safer Journeys Action Plan because speed affects the outcome of every crash.

"While New Zealand has made great strides in reducing deaths and injuries on our roads in the past decade, we’re still facing daily tragedies. We’ll only get an effective reduction in the numbers of deaths and serious injuries on our roads if we continue to make improvements across the system – that includes roads and roadsides, speed, vehicles and road user behaviour.”

Mr Griffiths said the Police analysis would be followed by a more comprehensive evaluation later in the year, which would consider information from a wide range of sources, including crash and injury data.

"The other really pleasing aspect of the campaign was the positive public feedback our staff received from the vast majority of drivers, who were understanding and responsive to the Police enforcement focus.

"That echoes the public response to previous road safety surveys*, in which 93% of road users said they would like police efforts to enforce road safety laws either increased (40%) or maintained at the current level (53%), while 76% agreed speed enforcement helps to reduce fatalities on the roads."

Chair of the National Road Safety Committee, and Secretary for Transport, Martin Matthews said: “I’m pleased the public is taking heed of safety messages to drive safely, and are managing their speed appropriately. Together with enhanced enforcement by Police over the summer break, this resulted in a notable reduction in road trauma. We all need to work together so that we can meet our road safety strategy goal of a safe road system increasingly free of death and serious injury.”

Mr Griffiths said following the success of the summer campaign, Police would be strictly enforcing a reduced 4km/h threshold over the extended Easter/Anzac holiday break, which will run from 4pm on Thursday 17 April to 6am on Monday 28 April.

"This is a logical step given the unusually long holiday period and the fact that many people will be taking the whole 10 days off and travelling in greater numbers."

ACC Chief Executive Scott Pickering said that last year, ACC received around 80 injury claims a day over Easter. "This included everything from head injuries to limbs smashed or bruised in motor vehicle crashes. We know that the faster you go, the worse your injuries will be if you crash. So I urge all Kiwis to stick to the speed limit, to stay safer over the ten days of Easter and Anzac Day this year."

EECA Chief Executive Mike Underhill, said: "'Slow down' isn’t just good advice for safety – it’s the number one way you can save on fuel when you’re driving. Those motorists who stick to no more than 100km/hour, instead of letting their speed creep up, can save themselves about 20c/litre on their fuel bill – that’s a win-win.”

Meanwhile, Police has also today released data on a range of other driving offences that put all road users at risk, including alcohol and drug impaired driving, seatbelt, red light and cellphone infringements.

"The data unsurprisingly reflects the most common behaviours consistently linked to fatal and serious crashes attended by our officers across the country every day," Mr Griffiths said. "That's why Police, supported by its road safety partners, will be continuing to focus on speed, distraction, alcohol, and other risky behaviour on the roads at all times."

The data will now be made publicly available on a quarterly basis from June this year. Go to: http://www.police.govt.nz/about-us/publication/road-policing-driver-offence-data-january-2009-2014

ENDS

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