Following 379 deaths on the road in 2017, a group of organisations have come together to renew calls for local authorities to adopt a Vision Zero approach to road safety - aiming for zero road deaths and injuries.
The calls come from Brake, the road safety charity, Cycling Action Network, Living Streets and NZ School Speeds. Last year Associate Minister for Transport Julie Anne Genter announced that road safety will receive additional funding and be made a priority, and some local authorities including Hamilton City Council and Waitemata Local Board included Vision Zero in their plans.
To reduce the number of deaths on the road, and ultimately achieve Vision Zero, this group is urging local authorities to now take urgent action by prioritising walking, cycling and public transport, lowering speed limits in urban areas and outside schools to 30km/h, and reducing speed limits on some rural roads to better match the road environment.
Vision Zero is an approach used in a growing number of countries and cities around the world and at its core is the principle that life and health can never be exchanged for other benefits within society. It is a proven strategy to reduce the number of road deaths and serious injuries.
Vision Zero aims to change how governments, organisations, and people approach road safety. A core message is that there are no 'accidents'. Crashes have causes that are preventable. These organisations say NZ needs to go beyond the current safe system approach by aiming for Vision Zero and creating a safe, sustainable, healthy and fair transport system for everyone.
Caroline Perry, Brake's NZ director, said: "Working with bereaved families, we see the devastating consequences of crashes, and all of these deaths are preventable. We are pleased the Government has said they will make road safety a priority, and we need action now to reduce the number of deaths and serious injuries. We need local councils to also make road safety a priority. The Vision Zero approach is reducing road deaths abroad and it's vital we have it in NZ and show that the only acceptable number of deaths on the road is zero."
Patrick Morgan, Cycling Action Network spokesperson said it's time for a new conversation about road safety:
"CAN is looking forward to working with the new Government on an ambitious road safety programme, that protects all New Zealanders. That will include safer speeds, high-quality cycleways, effective driver and cyclist education, and better intersection designs."
Living Streets Aotearoa President Andy Smith says: "Living Streets Aotearoa says the new government has a real opportunity to commit to Vision Zero, especially for vulnerable people including children and the elderly. Walking to work, to school, the rugby field, the shop or the car park should never be a death sentence."
Lucinda Rees, NZ School Speeds, said: "School speed limits of 30km/h are widely supported. The Government needs to start following Vision Zero by protecting our most vulnerable road users and have rules in place before term begins."
Organisations and individuals with an interest in Vision Zero are urged to find out more and get involved by contacting the organisations above, or going to www.facebook.com/VisionZeroforNZ.
Notes to Editors:
Total road deaths in NZ by year:
2017 379 (provisional figures)
Historic data from Ministry of Transport annual road toll reports
The Vision Zero approach is a commitment to aim for zero road deaths. It began in Sweden and is founded on the core principle that no loss of life on the road is acceptable, and life and health cannot be exchanged for other benefits within society. People on foot and bicycle are prioritised with low urban speed limits, traffic-free zones and safer streets and crossing points. Safety is prioritised over speed and efficiency in transport design and planning.