New road safety strat­egy ready

Matamata Chronicle - - News -

A high level ac­tion plan to re­duce the re­gion’s road­related deaths and se­ri­ous in­jury crashes has been ap­proved by the re­gional trans­port com­mit­tee.

Waikato Re­gional Coun­cil has spent the past 12 months con­sult­ing with the New Zealand Trans­port Agency (NZTA) and key stake­hold­ers, in­clud­ing coun­cils, on the 2013-16 road safety strat­egy.

This strat­egy uses the ‘safe sys­tem’ method­ol­ogy to iden­tify the key fo­cus ar­eas for road safety.

It sets the pol­icy frame­work and a plan of ac­tion to be im­ple­mented across the re­gion dur­ing the next three years and also de­fines the work that will need to hap­pen in the medium term to best po­si­tion the re­gion for the fu­ture. The com­mit­tee heard that a key pri­or­ity for the re­gion dur­ing the next three years would be the de­vel­op­ment of a re­gion­ally con­sis­tent ‘one net­work’ ap­proach to road safety risk as­sess­ment and in­ter­ven­tions.

This will in turn help with the roll- out of con­sis­tent re­gional speed man­age­ment pro­grammes, safety in­fra­struc­ture, road user ed­u­ca­tion and fleet safety pro­grammes.

Com­mit­tee chair­man and Waikato re­gional coun­cil­lor Norm Barker said there were many fac­tors re­spon­si­ble for Waikato’s high road toll, such as the phys­i­cal road­ing en­vi­ron­ment, high vol­umes of traf­fic, be­hav­iour of road users and the safety of the ve­hi­cles.

‘‘ The

re­spon­si­bil­ity

for ad­dress­ing th­ese is­sues lies with a good many of us – politi­cians, plan­ners, engi­neers, po­lice, pro­fes­sional driv­ers and the gen­eral pub­lic. We all have a role to play,’’ Cr Barker said.

Last year 65 peo­ple died on Waikato roads and hun­dreds more were hos­pi­talised with se­ri­ous in­juries re­sult­ing from crashes.

‘‘Two years ago this com­mit­tee made road safety one of the top three strate­gic trans­port pri­or­i­ties for the re­gion. We have a clear vi­sion for safety and have set some tough tar­gets, with an aim to halve our road toll by 2040,’’ he said.

The strat­egy also has a fo­cus on al­co­hol and drug im­paired driv­ing.

‘‘ The re­gional

trans­port com­mit­tee will con­tinue to lobby cen­tral govern­ment for a re­duced le­gal blood al­co­hol limit for all adult driv­ers and ran­dom drug test­ing by po­lice.

‘‘The in­tro­duc­tion of th­ese long over­due mea­sures has the po­ten­tial to sub­stan­tially re­duce the level of car­nage on our roads,’’ Cr Barker said.

The ap­proach aims to cre­ate a for­giv­ing road sys­tem re­sult­ing in a re­duc­tion in fa­tal and se­ri­ous crashes – one in which hu­man er­ror does not re­sult in a loss of life – and has been in­stru­men­tal in sig­nif­i­cantly re­duc­ing road trauma in many Euro­pean coun­tries.

The 2013-16 strat­egy is due to be adopted by the Waikato Re­gional Coun­cil at its next meet­ing this month.

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