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Trafinz joins call to quickly implement survivable speeds

‘April 2019 was the worst month for road deaths in New Zealand for over a decade. Last year we killed or injured someone’s loved one, every hour, of every day, of every month for the whole year on our roads, and this year is looking even worse, particularly with April’s horrific crashes near Taupo.’ says the Trafinz President, Councillor Andy Foster.

Recent research has confirmed that in addition to these road deaths, a massive 56% of all New Zealand trauma hospitalisations are the result of road crashes. ‘Those injuries often have lifelong impacts on people’s quality of life,’ says Cr Foster. ‘They also have the immediate consequence of clogging up our hospitals. The number of deaths and injuries is rising faster than can be explained by population or economic growth, and there is still a lack of urgency in taking the actions which we know will save lives and prevent injuries. The current level of death and injury is neither inevitable nor acceptable.’

‘As Road Safety Week 2019 ends Trafinz is calling for survivable speed limits across New Zealand.’ says Trafinz Vice President John Goettler.

‘It is madness to rely on four inches of paint to prevent head-on collisions between vehicles travelling at 100 km/h towards each other. In this situation if one person makes a mistake, often many people die. Unless we are happy to accept increasing levels of death and serious injury we have to install median barriers or reduce speeds to levels where crashes won’t almost certainly kill people.’

‘While there is an element of human error in almost every crash, if we just keep on blaming the road users without fixing the system so that mistakes don’t kill, people will keep on dying and getting hurt,’ says Cr Foster. ‘The median barriers at Paekakariki are a spectacular example of life saving. In the year before they went in 7 or 8 people died. In the 14 years since the barrier was installed there have been no deaths, but the barrier has been hit at least 130 times.’

‘Every serious crash should be investigated by Police and road safety specialists, not just to determine what went wrong, and whether a road user was at fault, but most importantly whether there was something we as roading authorities and those with responsibility for delivering road safety could have done to prevent it, and to stop a repeat event,’ says Mr Goettler.

“The Taupo crashes would certainly have been prevented had median barriers been in place,” says Mr Goettler.

“Barriers prevent at least 90% of fatalities and serious injuries. They are particularly important on busier roads where there is a greater chance of someone coming the other way if you cross the centre line. If we are going to be serious about saving lives, and ethically, surely we must be, then we cannot keep 100kph speed limits on roads with high traffic volumes and no median barriers.’

“Trafinz is delighted that this Government has made safety its top transport priority,” concluded Cr Foster. “If we could match the leading road safety countries we would save more than 250 lives a year and avoid roughly 2500 serious injuries. We know there are well proven solutions. We need safer roads and safer speeds and we need action now.’

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