For­mer govt never saw crit­i­cal road safety re­port

Waikato Times - - News - HENRY COOKE

The in­ter­nal road safety re­port said am­bi­tious tar­gets were needed for greater road safety.

An in­de­pen­dent eval­u­a­tion of the pre­vi­ous gov­ern­ment’s road safety strat­egy crit­i­cised a cy­cle of ac­tiv­ity and an­tipa­thy, and a lack of po­lit­i­cal will to push for fur­ther road safety mea­sures.

The Gov­ern­ment re­leased the 2015 in­ter­nal road safety re­port yes­ter­day. The re­port said am­bi­tious tar­gets were needed for greater road safety, and it also rec­om­mends stricter penal­ties for speed­ing and drink-driv­ing.

‘‘The over­all im­pres­sion is that there may be a ten­dency among de­ci­sion mak­ers to seek fur­ther anal­y­sis rather than act­ing on the ev­i­dence and in­for­ma­tion that is read­ily avail­able,’’ the re­port’s au­thors, from Martin Small Con­sult­ing, wrote.

‘‘Se­nior ex­ec­u­tives and in­sti­tu­tions may not con­sider they have the po­lit­i­cal man­date to un­der­take the de­tailed con­sul­ta­tions, ne­go­ti­a­tion and per­sua­sion to man­age change in con­tentious safety ar­eas.’’

The re­port’s au­thors were clear that am­bi­tious tar­gets – which the Safer Jour­neys strat­egy lacked – would im­prove safety.

‘‘Based on an un­der­stand­ing of in­ter­na­tional lit­er­a­ture and prac­tice, an ex­am­i­na­tion of in­ter­ven­tions which are in place, and an anal­y­sis of the sys­tems to drive im­proved per­for­mance, it is dif­fi­cult to con­clude any­thing else than that the lack of a set of na­tional tar­gets for sig­nif­i­cant re­duc­tions in road fa­tal­i­ties and se­ri­ous in­juries is hav­ing an ef­fect on the safety ex­pe­ri­ence by road users in New Zealand,’’ the re­port said.

It is un­der­stood no min­is­ters were ever ac­tu­ally shown the re­port, which was in­tended for chief ex­ec­u­tives of var­i­ous pub­lic bod­ies.

As­so­ciate Trans­port Min­is­ter Julie Anne Gen­ter re­leased the re­port at the start of a sum­mit on the Gov­ern­ment’s draft trans­port pol­icy state­ment.

Zero tar­get?

Gen­ter said she was con­sid­er­ing set­ting a tar­get of zero road deaths to stir se­ri­ous move­ment in the sec­tor.

‘‘With­out an ac­tual tar­get for re­duc­ing deaths and se­ri­ous in­juries, you risk ar­riv­ing at the ab­surd con­clu­sion that your strat­egy is on track even when you’re not see­ing any im­prove­ment.

‘‘The re­port is now be­ing made avail­able to help in­form dis­cus­sion be­tween stake­hold­ers, Gov­ern­ment, and the wider pub­lic about what needs to be done to save lives on our roads.’’

The re­port rec­om­mends a zero drink-driv­ing limit for truck driv­ers, bus driv­ers, and taxi driv­ers; strong penal­ties for speed­ing, and strong drug-driv­ing leg­is­la­tion.

Gen­ter said all op­tions should be on the ta­ble but would not be drawn on any spe­cific mea­sures, say­ing con­sul­ta­tion would be needed.

The draft trans­port state­ment sig­nif­i­cantly in­creased fund­ing for re­gional road im­prove­ments, lo­cal road im­prove­ments, and road safety pro­mo­tions.

It would de­crease fund­ing to flag­ship state high­way im­prove­ments such as the roads of na­tional sig­nif­i­cance and pro­poses an in­crease of the ex­cise fuel tax by be­tween 10 cents and 14c a litre over the next three years.

Na­tional’s trans­port spokesman Jami-Lee Ross last week said it was good the Gov­ern­ment would con­tinue Na­tional’s work on road safety.

‘‘It is un­der­min­ing that by ax­ing the con­struc­tion of New Zealand’s safest and busiest roads – the roads of na­tional sig­nif­i­cance,’’ Ross said.

The Gov­ern­ment con­tended that the roads of na­tional sig­nif­i­cance were used for only 4 per cent of road trips while eat­ing up far too much of the fund­ing.

‘‘Can you imag­ine a new school be­ing built with­out the stu­dents to jus­tify it? Of course not,’’ Trans­port Min­is­ter Phil Twyford said.

‘‘But we build roads with­out the traf­fic to jus­tify their mas­sive cost.’’

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