Former govt never saw critical road safety report
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.
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.’’