MTA supports the proposals for the Government’s Safer Journeys Action Plan 2013-2014, released earlier today.
“We’re glad the Government is working to get the old, often unsafe metal off our roads – newer vehicles have better safety equipment, more efficient engines and release fewer emissions into the environment. We have long advocated for a coherent end of life vehicle policy, so it’s great to see them responding,” MTA spokesman Ian Stronach says.
MTA is particularly supportive of proposals to improve the safety of vehicles entering the fleet, including the proposed introduction of mandatory Electronic Stability Control for new vehicles.
The introduction of suspension and tail pipe testing of vehicles already on the roads is also a welcome initiative. However, MTA considers more needs to be done to enforce the removal of unsafe vehicles from the road.
“We’re also calling for greater use to be made of Automated Number Plate Recognition technology to identify vehicles without a WoF, or that haven’t been relicensed,” Stronach says.
The technology to do this has been available for years; once again, it comes down to the will of Government to enforce its own rules, MTA says.
However, one notable absence from today’s announcement was setting definite measures to increase driver skill levels – technology can go a long way to making our roads safer in the event of accidents, but better driving can stop these situations from happening at all.
MTA would like to see more stringent measures around the 120 hours of supervised driving recommended for young people. Compared internationally, the quality of driver training and supervision in New Zealand is poor, Stronach says.
“We’d like to see the 120 hours’ validated through a robust logbook system, as already used in the heavy transport sector, or for learner drivers in Australia. Young drivers really need proper supervision if they are to establish good habits for a lifetime of safe and responsible automobile use.”
The Safer Journeys Strategy is a joint project by the Ministry of Transport, the NZ Transport Agency, NZ Police and ACC. First launched in 2010, it has already introduced a zero-tolerance alcohol limit for drivers under 20, legislation requiring equipment to mechanically prevent repeat drink-driving offenders from driving their vehicles, and the changing of give way rules.
However, some effects of the strategy have come under public criticism. The nation’s farming lobby protested raising the minimum driving age from 15 to 16, while parents of children who have repeatedly failed driving tests complained the tests were unfair and the inspectors were being too tough.