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Transport announcement an opportunity to save lives on roads

Victim Support is welcoming the Government’s new Draft Policy Statement on Land Transport as an opportunity to enhance safety on our roads, and encouraging the Government to set specific targets to improve safety and reduce deaths and serious injuries on our roads.

Victim Support is New Zealand’s primary organisation for the support of people affected or bereaved by road crashes. In 2017 alone, the nationwide charity provided support and advice to 2307 people who lost a loved one in a fatal vehicle collision, and another 1146 seriously affected by non-fatal incidents.

“There’s no doubt about it, we’re losing way too many people on our roads,” says Victim Support Chief Executive Kevin Tso.

“Between 2016 and 2017 alone, the number of deaths on our roads increased by more than 50. Road deaths have increased by 50 per cent since 2013.

“It’s important that economic considerations are balanced against opportunities to invest limited resources in safer roads, but the alarming growth in road deaths strongly suggests we just haven’t been getting this balance right.

“Something needs to change, and this is a real opportunity to make some substantive moves in the right direction.”

There were 380 road deaths in New Zealand in 2017. This was up from 327 in 2016 and from a low of 253 in 2013. As at 4 April 2018, 107 people have died on our roads this year, compared to 94 at the same time in 2017 (source: http://www.transport.govt.nz/research/road-deaths/).

“These aren’t just meaningless numbers. Behind every statistic is a family without a breadwinner, a life turned upside down, a child left without a parent, or a parent left without a child.

“The draft policy statement offers some encouraging options.

“Enhancements don’t all need to be expensive, and could be as simple as the installation of median and side barriers, improved intersection quality, or reviewing speed limits and road signage.

“Early work by Police, NZTA and the Ministry of Transport suggests that the highest priority $800 million in safety projects could prevent 160 deaths and serious injuries per year. Rebalancing funding toward local and regional roading improvements, and a greater safety focus in state highway strategy, offers hope that these critical investments will come sooner.

While Victim Support is encouraged by the enhanced focus on safety in the Government’s draft proposals, the organisation will encourage the Government to lay out more specifically how targets will be set to measure progress.

“Not only are road deaths increasing rapidly, we know that many of New Zealand’s major roads are unsafe. Around 40 percent of New Zealand’s State Highway network alone has just a two-star safety rating, and rural roads remain a huge issue.

“We look forward to a thorough process producing more specific, measurable commitments to reduce fatalities and injuries on our roads. Transparent targets will ensure traction continues and enable the government to be held to account for its progress.”

© Scoop Media

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