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Conference lists ten ways of bringing down road deaths

News from TRAFINZ
New Zealand’s oldest transport safety organisation is calling for leadership and change to make significant progress in bringing down death and injury on our roads. The call comes from the TRAFINZ (New Zealand Traffic Institute) 70th annual conference held this week in Wellington, attended by 200 central and local government officials, councillors, road safety experts and community advocacy groups from New Zealand and abroad.

“We have had five years in a row of increasing death and injury on our roads, increases far faster than can be explained by traffic volumes, population, or distances we travel.” says TRAFINZ President and Wellington City Councillor Andy Foster.

“This is a serious societal problem. We know we can take actions that will save lives. We know most of the solutions. What is needed is the leadership and the will to implement those solutions. If we could catch up with leading road safety nations we would save 250 lives every year.”

“TRAFINZ is delighted our new Government is serious about taking action, and has made safety the top priority in the new Government Policy Statement on Transport. We applaud increasing safety funding, more funding assistance for local road safety projects, and the intent to streamline the processes for Councils to access NZTA funding for proven interventions. These all need to be delivered,” says Cr Foster.

There were several key and consistent messages from conference speakers about the changes needed. We are very happy to go into more detail. They include:

1. Strong support for Vision Zero with a series of interim targets to drive momentum.

2. Creation of a well-resourced and empowered organisation to champion road safety, and to hold others, including Government, to account. Currently there is a lack of accountability if people die – or even if lots of people die.

3. We should have a role to play. Safety should be politically multi-partisan. It is not just a Government responsibility but Government has clear responsibilities and has to empower and require other parties to act too.

4. There are massive opportunities through improving our vehicle fleet. New data shows the occupants of ‘one-star’ vehicles are approximately five times more likely to die than occupants of 5 star vehicles.

5. We need to invest more in safety engineering such as barriers and roundabouts. They work.

6. Most of our roads have unsafe speed limits. People drive to those unsafe limits. Fixing speed limits is a quick fix that will save lives while we retrofit roads. Speed limits should be set appropriate to the conditions of a road and human ability to survive a crash.

7. Enforcement is vital to support behaviour change. There are concerns less resources are being dedicated to enforcement.

8. There is a need to review the penalty regime, and make it safety outcome focused.

9. We should be creating places for people, not just vehicles, especially in urban areas.

10. We need good education for opinion leaders and decision makers including politicians and media.

“The Government is now working with its road safety partners to develop the 2020-2030 Road Safety Strategy. This is a critical opportunity to lead change, safe lives and cut serious injuries.” Cr Foster concluded.