Politicians Blamed For Road Toll


“Misplaced investment priorities and a lack of political guts” are blamed today for why NZ has failed to make a dent in road toll figures in the last decade.

Traffic Institute of New Zealand’s annual conference opens in Wellington today and its president, a Wellington City Councillor, Andy Foster,said that 10 years ago, the then government approved a target to reduce the death toll on New Zealand’s roads below 300 per annum by 2010, and hospitalisation rates below 4500 a year.

“As a nation we’ve made progress but we will fall badly short of that target, where leading nations like Sweden and the UK have achieved equally ambitious targets.”

Among the institute’s concerns are the government increasing weights of heavy truck loads and “the risk posed to other road users.”

The conference plans “some serious soul-searching” on the road toll issue.

But he claims most of the blame for the continuing high road toll has to be borne by the previous Labour-led government - because they had eight years to take action.

“While the present National-led government is doing some good things in terms of road safety - it is also showing worrying signs of not being able to make some tough calls to save lives. It is great to see the official recognition that we can’t just keep blaming drivers for making mistakes, however stupid, but that system owners - lawmakers, road authorities, police, vehicle suppliers etc - all have to step up and take responsibility.”

He listed as concerns:

  • The biggest, the allocation of roading investment money being largely to capacity increase and far too little for safety improvements.
  • The time being taken to implement announced initiatives such as the left hand turn rule. This should probably be implemented before next year’s Rugby World Cup and the large numbers of international visitors we’re expecting.
  • While we are pleased with some of the moves on alcohol, the institute is disappointed the Government is deferring reducing the blood alcohol level from 0.08 to 0.05, when we know it will save at least 35 lives and 1200 injuries every year. Surely most other leading countries can’t be wrong! Now would be the perfect time given all the focus on alcohol abuse.
  • We have concerns about increasing weights of heavy truck loads and risk posed to other road users.
  • The time it is taking to allow red light cameras to be widely installed.
  • The compliance regimes around installing school safety zones.




  1. karl says:

    Sanity in roading? Naaah, that would be too easy.

    Cynicism aside, they are perfectly right. We need changes in attitude. I was hugely disappointed when IPENZ (New Zealand engineering institute) for example just went all “giddy & glee!” about Nationals motorway building program through the GPS funding allocations - which included a massive shift of money away from safety, local roads and active modes. So its good that some people are pointing out where we are going wrong.


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