Transport Minister Steven Joyce has launched a discussion document containing possible changes to make New Zealand roads safer
Joyce says the feedback received from road users will be used to develop a national road safety strategy for the next 10 years. This strategy will be released in December.
The Safer Journeys discussion document invites views on proposed high priority areas for improving road safety:
- Alcohol and drug impaired drivers
- Safer speeds
- Young drivers
- Roads and roadsides
The document also lists a number of medium level priorities, including improving the safety of the light vehicle fleet, safer walking and cycling, further improving the safety of heavy vehicles, and reducing the impact of fatigue and distraction.
Joyce says these areas were chosen as priorities because they are problem areas where real gains can be made.
“In recent years, there have been some major gains in road safety – the road toll has more than halved since its peak in 1973, while at the same time kilometres travelled have more than doubled.
“But despite these gains, hundreds of New Zealanders are killed and thousands injured on our roads every year, mostly in preventable crashes. Safer Journeys is a step towards improving the safety of our roads.
“As well as the impact on families and communities, the social cost of road crashes is estimated to be $3.8 billion dollars a year."
The document outlines more than 60 initiatives, but Joyce says he does not intend to introduce anywhere near that many changes.
Lifting the minimum driving age from 15 to 17 is one of them.
There is currently a bill before Parliament to raise the age to 16 and to extend the learner licence period from six months to 12 months.
Another idea is to reduce the legal blood alcohol limit from 80mg per 100ml to 50mg per 100ml, or alternatively leave the limit at 80mg and increase the penalties.
There could also be a zero blood alcohol limit for those under 20 years of age and recidivist offenders.
Proposals to reduce speed include more speed cameras, tougher penalties and more varied speed zones on high risk rural roads, as well as lower speed limits in urban areas.
Public consultation is open until 2 October. Initial actions will be implemented over the next year or two.