Ambitious road safety targets needed to save lives

Monday, April 16, 2018

A 2015 evaluation of the previous government’s road safety strategy, released this week, highlights the need for ambitious national road safety targets and political leadership in road safety, says Associate Transport Minister Julie Anne Genter.

The independent evaluation of the previous government’s Safer Journeys road safety strategy and action plans was released Monday, alongside a suite of documents, to direct the development of a new road safety strategy.

The evaluation states that the level of ambition in the previous government’s road safety strategy and action plan was ‘compromised by the absence of a specific set of national or regional targets [to reduce death and serious injury]’. It concluded 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 experienced by road users in New Zealand’.

Genter says that without an actual target for reducing deaths and serious injuries, there is a risk of concluding a strategy is ‘on-track’ even when no improvement is seen.

“Ambitious targets are recommended by nearly every major international road safety body and will help focus policy and resources towards saving lives on our roads.

“While the evaluation identifies important progress made under the previous government, it also raised concerns that ‘there was not a strong political champion for road safety’ nor a ‘political mandate’ for senior executives to make change in ‘contentious road safety areas’. That’s something I intend to change,” says Genter.

“This report makes a number of useful recommendations that will feed into the development of a new road safety strategy as well as this year’s road safety work programme.

“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 recommended that consideration be given to the following concerns as the next action plan was developed:

• The level of priority and safety afforded to cyclists and pedestrians, in cities and regional population centres

• The need to recognise and account for social disadvantage in access to licensing services, and addressing cycles of traffic (re)offending

• The value of strengthening the vision and targets, and the safe system responses by a variety of influencers and organisations

• The creation of more explicit safety links between national and local planning and investment processes and systems.

The report also recommended that the following six key areas should be substantially addressed as the next action plan was developed:

• Safe roads and roadsides

• Safe speeds

• Workplaces

• Local government

• Safety management

• Safety regulation.