Wary on road safety

The Dominion Post - - Opinion -

The Do­min­ion Post re­ported on the con­clu­sions of rep­re­sen­ta­tives from many coun­tries on im­proving road safety (Speed lim­its come under scru­tiny, April 14). The fo­cus has been on safety, not the eco­nomic move­ment of goods and peo­ple. Slow­ing traf­fic brings costs which must be bal­anced against the cost of crashes.

The num­ber of ve­hi­cles has in­creased greatly, there­fore the risk of crashes is markedly higher and grow­ing. This is es­pe­cially true on main roads. The same sit­u­a­tion ap­plies to a lesser ex­tent on roads in the sub­urbs and not at all in ru­ral ar­eas. This sup­ports the case for lower speed lim­its. But the chang­ing den­sity of traf­fic over a day also is a fac­tor — speed lim­its make lit­tle sense on an empty road.

New Zealand has a unique co­hort of driv­ers, from low so­cioe­co­nomic to priv­i­leged back­grounds, timid to ma­cho at­ti­tudes, and non-work to work de­mands for travel. Its low pop­u­la­tion den­sity, with peo­ple’s cho­sen out­door life­styles, leads to high car own­er­ship.

Safety mea­sures suc­cess­ful over­seas may not be jus­ti­fied here.

Under an in­ex­pe­ri­enced, Green min­is­ter, the is­sue of eco­nomic trans­port will be con­fused with the is­sues of safety, sus­tain­abil­ity, and pro­mo­tion of pub­lic trans­port, cy­cling and walking. The Gov­ern­ment needs to tread care­fully. MIKE WIL­LIAMS Tawa

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