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Drop The Spin, Minister

Drop The Spin, Minister

Friday 5 Dec 2003 Dr Muriel Newman Press Releases -- Crime & Justice

ACT New Zealand Police Spokesman Dr Muriel Newman today claimed that Transport Minister Paul Swain's latest proposal to almost halve the drink driving limit - from 80 to 50 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood - to further reduce the road toll, is little more than a public relations campaign.

"With only one driver with an blood alcohol count of between 50 and 100 milligrams having been killed last year, the Minister's assertion that the lower drinking limit will reduce road deaths from 403 to less than 300, is clearly political spin," Dr Newman said.

"I question whether it is a case of bad drivers or bad roads. If the Minister wants to get serious about the need to reduce road fatalities then he should be putting his effort into improving road design, using the petrol tax money collected from motorists for that purpose, instead of siphoning it off into the consolidated fund.

"It is clear from accident reports that many roads deaths occur because the roads themselves are dangerous and that better safety objectives will not be achieved by merely focusing on blood alcohol levels alone. It is therefore not just a simple case of bad driving that causes road accidents even though the Minister would have us believe the drivers alone are to blame.

"The reality is that while drivers must take responsibility for their driving habits, the Government should take responsibility for ensuring out roads are not death traps. That also means involving local authorities who are responsible for our local roads.

"The Minister must put pressure on local authorities as well as Transit New Zealand to make sure that when roads are built and maintained that they meet minimum safety standards. It is the cost cutting in road design - building roads without safety shoulders, with the wrong camber, without safety rails on dangerous corners and so on - that are costing many more lives than drink driving.

"I call on Mr Swain to take responsibility for the safety of our roads and to explain to the New Zealand public what he intends to do to ensure that new roads are designed and built with road safety in mind, and that existing roads are subjected to road safety audits to ensure that minimum risk standards exist," Dr Newman said.


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