INDEPENDENT NEWS

Govt Road Safety Policy is killing our families

Published: Fri 9 Apr 2010 01:50 PM
Government Road Safety Policy is killing our families on New Zealand Roads
7 days, 15 crashes, 21 deaths
New Zealand road trauma is expected to get a lot worse under the current ‘Greatest Enforceable Risk’ (G.E.R.) policy that focuses almost solely on the ‘greatest enforceable risks’, of ‘Speed’, Álcohol, and Restraints. The GREATEST REAL RISKS which include Inattention, Driver Fatigue and Drugged Driving have been sidelined.
A Naturalistic Driving Study (2005) conducted in North Virginia in the United States show that 80% of crashes in-fact involve driver inattention and fatigue. This study involved inbuilt cameras being placed in vehicles over a 12 month period.
The 2004 New Zealand Automobile Association survey showed that the single greatest factor (50%) was inattention/ loss of concentration. Furthermore, it was sited in the AA Directions magazine Summer 2009 that ‘The New Zealand Police ascribed ‘poor observation’ as the cause of nearly half the crashes in 2008’
New Zealand Government agency studies reported in 2005 covering 200km of State Highway 1 in the South Waikato and Taupo Target (SWATT 2010) conducted by Transit NZ, Land Transport NZ, ACC, NZ Police, Environment Waikato, Taupo District Council, South Waikato District Council showed that 40% of crashes are as a result of inattention and driver fatigue. Furthermore, a Land Transport NZ Official Information Act 1982 response revealed that between the years 2003-2007 an average of 38% of injuries and an average of 23% of fatalities were as a result of at least one of the following factors – (i) failed to notice, (ii) attention diverted by (iii) did not look or see.
The NZ Treasury/ Ministry of Transport/NZ Transport Agency Resource Allocation Model’ (RAM) which is a mathematical formula, based upon the Greatest Enforceable Risk policy, governs all of road safety in New Zealand. In a nutshell, cash spent on enforceable risks such as speed cameras and booze buses must be matched by revenue generated from such initiatives, to achieve a pre-determined ‘Return on Investment’ (ROI). The ‘unenforceable risks’ therefore do not feature. This model is based upon ‘false economies’, as it does not in any way take into account the REAL FINANCIAL COST to the country. Not to mention the massive social cost to New Zealanders. The architects of the ‘biggest road safety’ blunder in the history of this country need to be exposed.
From a financial point of view the real cost is the annual Accident Compensation Corporation payout. This was $417,246,000 in (2008). The annual Accident Compensation Corporation payout on claims reached a record $452,392,000 in 2009.
Furthermore, the ACC Motor Vehicle Account liabilities was $5,079,573,000 for 2008. The ACC Motor Vehicle Account liabilities is a now a record $6,845,108,000 for 2009. This represents an increase of 35% in one year alone ! Word has it that ACC staff are tired of ‘sitting at the bottom of the cliff’, writing out large cheques, as a result of failed Government Road Safety Policies.
New Zealand is doing extremely poorly despite the political pitches and statisticians presenting statistics and graphs viewed through ‘rose tinted glasses’.
A few facts sourced from the Auckland Regional Road Safety Plan 2009/2012 will provide a reality check. Namely;
Between 2000 – 2007 New Zealand’s Percentage Reduction in Road Deaths was the seventh worst out of 27 countries. If one adds the positive impact of improved car design, airbags, anti-roll stability systems, and improved trauma care (in reducing deaths) over the same period, the situation in New Zealand is deteriorating rapidly and lagging behind the developed countries.
An international comparison of deaths per 100,000 population in 2007 showed New Zealand only ranked 20th out of 30 countries. New Zealand recorded almost twice the fatality rate per 100,000 than the United Kingdom and Sweden. Simplistically, as New Zealand Government Policy addressed only half the issues one could expect half the results on the road !
Among OECD member countries in 2007, New Zealand had the highest recorded ‘road deaths’ per 100,000 population’ risk among 15 to 17 year olds, the second highest ‘road death per 100,000 population’ risk among 0-14 year olds, and the fourth highest OECD ‘death per 100,000 population’ risk among the 18-20 year olds.
The real figures are probably much worse. The New Zealand Automobile Association asked the Ministry of Transport Officials for a similar Naturalistic Driving Study to that which was undertaken in North Virginia, to confirm the ‘real’ crash causes. New Zealand Sleep Safety called for a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the crash reporting procedure (including the crash data), but that was also turned down by the Transport Minister.
In a nutshell, the MoT /NZ Transport Agency crash data in New Zealand is being manipulated and used as a shield to support and protect the Greatest Enforceable Risk policy (GER).
The R.A.T. now needs to be exposed. There needs to be true Responsibility, Accountability and Transparency from the Government organizations responsible to the New Zealand public for delivering road safety initiatives. Apologies should also be forthcoming.
Where are the national television advertisements educating drivers about the dangers of driver fatigue on the roads ? Simple educational messages such as the warning signs of driver fatigue (eg; micro-sleeps) and countermeasures (eg; power-napping) could go a long way to save lives on the roads. Most of those crashes over the last seven days involved driver fatigue and inattention.
Other countries educate their people about all of the risks, not just the Greatest Enforceable Risks. The first television education campaigns on both Driver Fatigue was commenced in Victoria (Aust.) in 1991 and Driver Concentration in 1993. They have been running such television educational campaigns in Australia ever since.
AKILLA Sleep Safety Educational Campaign
www.akilla.co.nz
ENDS

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