Road safety charity Brake is calling on the government to show strong leadership and introduce casualty reduction targets as the current number of deaths on our roads in 2015 passes last year’s total number.
Brake believes such targets must be a key first step in an urgently needed fightback against road danger.
The calls come as a fatal crash on Thursday this week brought the total number of deaths so far this year to 296, meaning the road toll has increased two years in a row. The final road toll for 2014 was 295.
The government’s Safer Journeys strategy includes some casualty reduction targets to be reached by 2020 for specific groups and issues such as young people, drink and drug driving and motorcycle and moped riders, but doesn’t include any targets for a reduction in the overall numbers of road deaths and injuries (see current targets below). Brake is calling for the introduction of such targets, and more specific targets for other issues such as speed, and says this is a crucial time to do so with only four years left on the current strategy and a new action plan due for 2016 onwards.
Globally there is a push to reduce the number of road deaths and injuries with a target of halving the number of global deaths and injuries from road crashes by 2020 included in the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals . Road safety is a sustainability issue that not only saves lives, but also can reduce New Zealand’s carbon emissions if the safety of people on foot and bicycles are prioritised and people are enabled to get out their cars and move in ways that are clean and green. Sustainable transport has been a key topic of the COP21 talks in Paris this month.
Caroline Perry, Brake’s New Zealand director, said: “We should be under no illusions as to the seriousness of New Zealand’s casualty rate. It’s hugely disappointing that we’ve seen an increase in road deaths for the past two years. There are some important steps being made in road safety policy, but the figures show we still have a long way to go to stop the needless devastation that is happening to families across the country. Not one death is acceptable.
“We know from providing support resources for devastated road crash victims that every road death causes unimaginable human suffering, and every death is preventable. The government needs to take more action to reduce our road casualty rate, and it can start by setting ambitious casualty reduction targets, in line with what is happening globally, and with an ultimate aim of reducing deaths and serious injuries on our roads to zero.”
Safer Journeys targets that include casualty reductions:
Increase the safety of young drivers
- reduce the road fatality rate of our young people from 21 per 100,000 population to a rate similar to that of young Australians of 13 per 100,000
Reduce alcohol/drug impaired driving
- reduce the level of fatalities caused by drink and/or drugged driving, currently 28 deaths per one million population, to a rate similar to that in Australia of 22 deaths per one million population
Increase the safety of motorcycling
- reduce the road fatality rate of motorcycle and moped riders from 12 per 100,000 population to a rate similar to that of the best performing Australian state, Victoria, which is 8 per 100,000
Increase the safety of older New Zealanders
- reduce the road fatality rate of older New Zealanders from 15 per 100,000 population to a rate similar to that of older Australians of 11 per 100,000
 UN Sustainable Development Goals 2015, http://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/health/