Campaigner claims traffic enforcement has little effect on road safety

The grim Queen's Birthday weekend toll proves traffic enforcement has little effect on the number of accidents, says road safety campaigner.

Road safety campaigner Clive Matthew-Wilson says the grim Queen’s Birthday weekend road toll proves traffic enforcement has little effect on the number of accidents.

Seven people died over the weekend and there were 807 crashes compared to one death and 361 crashes over the same period last year.

“I’m not saying the police shouldn’t have a high presence on our roads,” he says. “But as I am growing hoarse pointing out that changing behaviour is the hardest way of lowering the road toll.

“Despite last weekend’s tragedy overall, the toll has been falling steadily since the late 1980s and closely matches the improvements in our roads and cars.

“And as our roads and cars continue to improve the toll will fall further.”

Mr Matthew-Wilson says it is highly likely the low toll over previous Queen’s Birthday weekends was “partially a matter of chance and partially due to the wide publicity given to the police anti-speed campaigns”.

“This publicity probably kept many of the high-risk groups off the roads during those weekends, which would have reduced the number of accidents.

“The problem with the police anti-speeding campaign is that it’s based on the lie that ordinary people speeding is the cause of most road deaths.

“In fact, about 80% of fatalities occur below the speed limit and a high percentage of these involve a very small group of high-risk drivers.”

For their part, police say they are baffled at the worst Queen’s Birthday road toll in three years.

Acting national road policing manager Superintendent Rob Morgan says he plans to have a good look at the data behind the crashes “to see if we can find any common threads or cause”.

“It’s disappointing. We’re saying the same things we said last long weekend and obviously people took a bit of notice on that weekend.

“Road safety is about personal responsibility. It’s about taking responsibility for your own actions and being responsible for other people who are in your vehicle.

Alcohol was thought to be a factor in three of the weekend’s four fatal crashes.

The worst claimed the lives of four male farm workers whose vehicle left the road in a remote part of Hawke’s Bay after they had been drinking at a local hotel.

The men’s bodies were due to be taken to the nearby Te Maara A Ngata Marae marae after being released by authorities.

Marae chairman Edward Te Kahika is calling for a hui about the drink-drive problem and hopes police will take part.

“It’s something that our iwi needs to address to see what we can do to stop our young boys killing themselves.

“We can’t have this happening all the time, with them leaving their loved ones behind. It’s wasteful, young men losing their lives,” he says.

One of the victims was the father of eight children.

Tragically, the crash reflects official statistics which show that Maori are disproportionately involved in fatal car crashes.

Since 2001 police have recorded the ethnicity of drivers involved in crashes and the figures show that, on average, Maori drivers are involved in around 23% of fatal crashes, compared to 68% for Europeans and 4% for Asians. 

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