New Zealand’s amazing improvement in road safety over the last 12 months has seen our rate of road deaths fall to almost match Australia’s, but we still lag well behind the best European countries.
Friday May 11 will mark the end of the first year in the Decade of Action for Road Safety. The Decade of Action is a global UN initiative, seeking to dramatically reduce the number of people killed and injured on the world’s roads.
Since The Decade’s New Zealand launch last May, the country has had its lowest annual road toll since 1952, achieved the first fatality free Easter weekend in recorded history and last month set a record for the lowest number of monthly road deaths with 12 deaths in April.
The first year of the Decade has also seen changes made to our road rules and laws that will improve road safety. The restricted licence test has been made more difficult, our give way rules have been changed, alcohol interlocks have been introduced as a sentencing option for serious drink drivers and there is now a zero alcohol limit for young drivers.
“When more than 700 people were killed each year in the 1970s the idea of an annual road toll of less than 300 would have probably seemed impossible but we did that last year. We’ve got nine years left in the Decade of Action for Road Safety, and there is no reason that by 2020 we shouldn’t be aiming to halve our road toll from where it is now,” says AA spokesperson Dylan Thomsen.
Comparing New Zealand to other countries internationally shows we can still do much better.
In 2011, our rate of road deaths per 100,000 population dropped to about 6.4, our best yet. But the Europeans continue to set the benchmark for road safety, with the likes of Sweden (2.8 deaths per 100,000 population), the UK (3.1), Norway (4.2), Germany (4.5) and Ireland (4.7). Australia had a rate of 5.7 deaths per 100,000 population in 2011.
“New Zealand right now has a similar rate of road deaths to what the UK and Sweden had in 2000. They both managed to halve their rates in ten years so it can be done,” says Mr Thomsen.
“The first year of the Decade of Action for Road Safety has seen New Zealand take some major steps forward but it is not enough.
“Over the next 12 months we want more focus on how people can protect themselves and others by choosing a safer vehicle as well as greater investment in safety upgrades for our roads.”
For more information contact:
New Zealand Automobile Association
T. (04) 931 9991
M. 027 781 3254
The New Zealand Automobile Association is an incorporated society with over one million members. It represents the interests of road users who collectively pay over $2 billion in taxes each year through fuels excise, road user charges and GST.