Frustrations increase over lack of road safety measures
Road Safety week is coming to a close. What started with a road toll of just over 140 people, has now escalated to 150. “That is 150 families and their communities who are having to deal with the an unnecessary. These individuals were doing something that we all take for granted and extreme measures are needed to change this starting with consistent speed limits of 30km/h outside schools.” says Lucinda Rees a road safety campaigner for NZ School Speeds.
“At the start of the week Julie Anne Genter, our Minister of Transport announced vague Vision Zero plan, that won’t cause too many ructions and in fact is only veering in the direction of Vision Zero. However much more is needed so the culture of New Zealand drivers change.”
NZ School Speeds advocates for consistent speed limits outside schools, as currently there are speed limits of up to 100km/h outside schools. This gives the impression to drivers that if authorities allow them to legally travel through school zones at excessive speeds, then there is no reason for them to slow on other occasions, like when the school bus is stopped and drivers are expected to slow to 20km/h or near cyclists or when children are crossing the road.
The only consistency we have in this country is that the message from the Ministry of Transport, the NZTA and councils that driving at speed is acceptable and in fact a right.
Frustratingly for Ms Rees and many other road safety advocates, the Government is not doing enough to tackle the problem. Slowing the speed limits on some rural roads is a good idea, but it still won’t change the culture.
We are being told that more people need to walk or cycle, but until roads are suitable for these walkers and cyclists, many of whom would be children making their way to school, they will continue to stick with cars. Slowing speeds consistently outside schools and where people live, will be a start of making it accepted practice to slow for our most vulnerable road users, as the real Vision Zero would suggest.
In 2017 the social cost of deaths and injuries from motor vehicles was $4.8 Billion and this is will be escalating. The cost of changing speed limits is minor, the main cost is in changing road infrastructure, but even this can temporarily be done on the cheap.
Rees suggests as a final push for Road Safety week: “Extreme change is needed to make New Zealand’s roads safer, but only if our Government takes this seriously and has the guts to act.”