Road to Zero on track despite grim road toll - officials

Source: 1News

The Road to Zero Annual Monitoring Report 2021 was jointly released by Te Manatū Waka Ministry of Transport, Waka Kotahi and New Zealand police on Thursday and shows it's on track to meet its target of reducing death and serious injuries (DSIs) by 40% by 2030.

Vehicles on an Auckland street (file photo).

The Annual Monitoring Report showed that a reduction in DSIs has been achieved since 2018 despite a spike last year.

It recorded a provisional 320 deaths and 2323 serious injuries in 2021, which the report said "is still unacceptably high".

In 2020, 318 people died on the roads and 2175 were seriously injured.

In June this year, Waka Kotahi admitted they are falling short of meeting targets for the road to zero strategy introduced in 2019 to see a 40% reduction in deaths and serious injuries by 2030.

Road safety was a focus of attention at the time when Marlborough saw two fatal crashes involving trucks on state highways.

Industry experts say a lack of Government investment is responsible for our increasing death toll year-on-year.

This year already, 166 people have died in crashes, which is higher than pre-Covid levels for the same period.

“Regular monitoring and reporting are critical to keep us on track towards our 2030 target and provide a transparent way to assess and review progress on actions,” says Te Manatū Waka director of Road to Zero Bryan Sherritt.

“An 11% reduction in deaths and serious injuries since 2018 shows improvements are being made and are a result of progress across a range of Road to Zero actions. Continuing to focus on a Safe System approach will further improve these results.

“We know that in some areas there are improvements that we can make to deliver on this important mahi. Road Safety Partners are committed to working together to make even greater progress to reduce the harm road trauma causes.”

The Safe System approach acknowledges that responsibility for safety is shared amongst those who design, build, manage and use the roads and vehicles. It also acknowledges that, as humans, none of us is perfect all of the time and that people inevitably make mistakes that can lead to road crashes. All parts of the system must be strengthened so that, if one part fails, road users are still protected.

Across the country, nine regions have seen reductions in deaths and serious injuries of 20% or more since 2018, with the Nelson region seeing the largest reduction of 62%.

In the Tasman district changes made to a roundabout by councils, Waka Kotahi and even a local supermarket all contributed to a reduction in deaths and serious injuries (47%).

“The positive results that we’ve seen in Tasman are a great example of how lives can be saved and serious injuries prevented by embracing the Safe System approach and putting it into action,” says Waka Kotahi director of land transport Kane Patena.

“Waka Kotahi has been working with councils and communities across Aotearoa to save lives and prevent serious injuries on our roads. We know people make mistakes, so we need to create forgiving roads and roadsides, make our speed limits safe and get more people into safer vehicles, so that those simple mistakes don’t cost people their lives.

“Road to Zero is a long-term strategy, and the monitoring report shows us which areas we need to continue to ramp up our focus on to meet the target for 2030. Waka Kotahi will be prioritising infrastructure investment in safety improvements such as median and side barriers and safety cameras.”

Police Assistant Commissioner Bruce O’Brien says that, while progress on the delivery of the road safety partnership is positive, there is further opportunity for progress.

“Our Safe Roads Control Strategy resets Police’s focus to ensure that our prevention and enforcement activity is based on what will have the most impact in reducing harm on the road,” O’Brien says.

“New Zealand Police is committed to increasing our efforts and continuing to take the appropriate prevention and enforcement action necessary to reduce death and serious injury on New Zealand roads. Reducing the harm caused on our roads is all of our responsibility, including road users.

"Concerningly, crashes that result in harm where restraints are not being worn, and excess or unsafe speed are a factor have increased since 2018/19.

“The human body has a limited physical ability to tolerate crash forces before harm occurs. It’s a simple and easy action to put on your seatbelt and it could save your life."