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Anti-speeding campaign hasn’t lowered holiday road toll - motoring writer

NBR Staff
Fri, 03 Jan 2014

The provisional holiday road toll is seven, says Assistant Commissioner Dave Cliff.

Last year there were six road deaths over the period.

"While I'm pleased we are nowhere near the 2011/2012 figure of 19 deaths, we still have too many grieving families whose holiday has been shattered by road trauma," Mr Cliff says.

The holiday period ran from 4pm, December 24 to 6am, Friday January 3.

"I take some comfort from the fact that since we launched our Safer Summer campaign we have achieved the lowest number of December deaths since 1965 with 23 fatalities," Mr Cliff says.

"Nevertheless the fact remains that we wouldn't tolerate such fatality numbers for any other reason."

The provisional road toll for 2013 of 254 is the lowest in the last 60 years, Associate Transport Minister Michael Woodhousesays. This compares with 308 in 2012, 284 in 2011, and 375 in 2010.

“The 2013 road toll was 34 per cent lower than four years ago and it’s particularly pleasing that 15-24 year olds have seen a significant drop with a 37 per cent lower road toll than in 2009,” Mr Woodhouse says.

“While the number of cars on the roads has increased significantly, our annual road toll has now more than halved from 20 years ago, when 600 New Zealanders a year were killed on the roads."

The tragic holiday road toll is proof that tough anti-speeding campaigns, by themselves, do little to reduce accidents, says the car review website
Editor Clive Matthew-Wilson, who is an active road safety campaigner, says, “When the holiday road toll drops, the police claim credit, When the holiday road toll rises, as it did this year, the police blame the motorists. They can’t have it both ways.”
"I know that the police are sincerely trying to lower the road toll by targeting illegal speeding, but the sad reality is that about 80% of fatalities occur at speeds below the legal limit. Of the 20% of fatal accidents that occur over the speed limit, most involve either motorcyclists, or young, working-class males on the edge of the criminal community who are often blotto or tired or both. The government’s own studies show this.”
“The police justify their anti-speed campaigns by pointing to research that shows a 5% reduction in the average speed on the open road is typically associated with a reduction of around 20% in fatal accidents.”
“The problem is, the government’s own figures show that the average speed of motorists hasn't dropped in five years, but the road toll plummeted during this time. Therefore, it’s nonsense to claim that the police anti-speed campaign saved lives by lowering average speeds. The recent drop in the road toll is simply a continuation of a downward trend that started in the late 1980s, and is largely the result of safer cars, safer roads and improved medical care.”
“Ticketing mums and dads taking the kids on holiday will not lower the road toll, because mums and dads taking the kids on holiday rarely cause accidents, unless fatigue or alcohol are involved.”
“While the police target mums and dads, the high risk groups continue to end up injured or dead. Trying to lower the road toll by targeting relatively innocent motorists is a tragic waste of police resources.”
Mr Matthew-Wilson believes technology is the key to lowering the road toll further.
“Most of the serious accidents over the holiday break occurred where the road or the vehicle didn’t protect the occupants from their own mistakes. Simple technology such as rumble strips, roadside fencing and centre medium barriers would have prevented many of the serious accidents over the holiday period. If the vehicles that rolled over had been fitted with electronic stability control, most of these rollover accidents would probably have never occurred.”
NBR Staff
Fri, 03 Jan 2014
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Anti-speeding campaign hasn’t lowered holiday road toll - motoring writer