15 calls for safer and better roads

The AA Election Calls 2014 target the areas of safer speeds; safer drivers; safer roads; safer vehicles; the costs of motoring; and infrastructure and public transport.

The AA supports the Safe System approach to road safety set out in the Government’s Safer Journeys strategy. The safe system recognises that road safety is a combination of many factors and reducing the harm from road crashes requires us to have safer vehicles, travelling at safer speeds, on safer roads, with safer drivers.

Safer speeds

Election Call: Fair, consistent and predictable speed limits

What is the problem?

There is growing inconsistency in speed limits around the country. A motorist driving from one end of the country to the other encounters a huge range of speed limits from 30km/h to 100km/h. Different local authorities are taking different approaches, so similar stretches of road have different speed limits. This makes it harder for drivers to know intuitively what speed they should be travelling at on any particular road. In some cases, local authorities are proposing speed limit changes that do not comply with the Speed Limits NZ regulations. In our quarterly survey of AA Members, more than half have recently had a driving experience where they have been on a road and not known what its speed limit was. Drivers do not have a clear message about what are safe speeds for different roads.

What is the solution?

We are calling for a national strategy for speed limit setting to be created that sets out guidelines for local authorities to follow. This would ensure speed limits are nationally consistent, reflective of risk and fair to motorists – all of which will help people to drive within the limit and reduce instances of inadvertent speeding.

110km/h limits on our 4-star motorways

What is the problem? 110kph limits on 4 star motorways

New Zealand has lower motorway speeds than most developed nations.

Out of 37 countries listed in the 2013 International Road Traffic and Accident Database (IRTAD) Annual Report, New Zealand, Japan and Norway are the only nations with motorway speed limits of 100km/h. All the other nations have maximum motorway speed limits between 110-140km/h. Motorways have less crashes per kilometre travelled on them than other types of roads and New Zealand’s highest quality, divided motorways are built to a safety standard for vehicle speeds of 110km/h. The 100km/h limit adds unnecessary travel time for people and businesses.

What is the solution?

We are calling for an increase in the speed limit to 110km/h on multi-lane, divided motorways with a 4-star or higher KiwiRAP safety rating. This would be consistent with the speed limits on roads of this quality in Sweden, the UK and Australia. A lower Police speed tolerance could also apply for enforcement on these highways.

Make speed cameras more effective

What is the problem?

There were 516,000 speed camera tickets issued in New Zealand in 12 months from 2012-2013 and the annual number has stayed relatively constant over the last decade. There will soon be 60 fixed speed cameras on our roads compared to 12 currently. This is likely to result in a substantial increase in the number of tickets issued unless the enforcement approach changes. It is standard practice in many other countries to have signs alerting drivers ahead of fixed speed cameras. Global road safety leaders Sweden and the UK both sign their fixed speed camera sites, as do other countries like Australia, Norway, France, the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland and Italy.

What is the solution? web speed cameras

We are calling for speed camera enforcement to take a more overt, prevention first approach. All fixed speed camera sites should have signs alerting drivers entering the zone so they will be more likely to check their speed and slow down if necessary. This will be more effective at preventing speeding in these high-risk locations. Under New Zealand’s safe system approach to road safety, issuing a ticket is actually a failure as it represents a driver travelling at an unsafe speed. Mobile cameras can still operate without signage but the speed camera vans should be painted in Police colours and be made highly visible to drivers travelling past them. We are also calling for speed camera sites to be reviewed annually to show whether they are succeeding in reducing speeds. Sites where a large number of tickets are issued need to be considered for engineering and signage changes to achieve safer speeds. Over time the number of tickets being issued needs to be coming down due to speed limits being appropriate, obvious to motorists and complied with.

Add flashing signs to school buses

What is the problem?

A substantial number of motorists are not aware of the speed limit that vehicles are meant to obey when passing a school bus that is letting children on or off. It is also difficult for passing drivers to know if a school bus is in-service and the fact that the reduced speed limit applies to traffic travelling in both directions is largely unknown. This results in drivers inadvertently breaking the law and adds extra risk for a tragic crash involving a child.

What is the solution?

We are calling for school buses to have flashing lights and signs that come on when they pick up or drop off children and for a review of the school bus speed limit. The signs will alert drivers to slow down when school buses are stopped and picking up or dropping off children. Recent New Zealand trials have shown that flashing signs were the most effective way to get vehicles to slow down for school buses.

Safer drivers

Review of alcohol interlock programme and limited licences

What is the problem? web alcohol interlock

International evaluations of alcohol interlocks found they reduced drink driving reoffending by 50% – 90% while the machines were installed. However, the alcohol interlock programme in New Zealand is not working effectively. In 18 months since interlocks became a sentencing option in 2012, there were only 158 interlocks fitted from an estimated 12,000 eligible offenders. Some offenders that would be prime candidates for an interlock are instead applying for limited licences, which allows them to continue driving with no ability to monitor or prevent them getting behind the wheel after drinking.

What is the solution?

We are calling for a review of the alcohol interlock programme and limited licences. We want it to become compulsory for repeat drink drivers or offenders caught at a BAC equivalent to 150 milligrams per 100 millilitres of blood or more to have an alcohol interlock installed in their vehicle immediately. They should also undergo an alcohol/drug assessment and, if they are deemed to require it, undergo rehabilitation as part of their sentence. We are also calling for repeat or high-level drink drivers to no longer be able to obtain a limited licence as they must have an interlock fitted. Funding for more assessment, rehabilitation and a refreshed interlock programme can be partly raised by introducing fines for BAC offences between .05 to .08.

Introduce saliva-based roadside drug testing

What is the problem?

A 2010 report that analysed blood samples from 1046 dead drivers found 34.8% had cannabis or some other drug in their system. Yet less than a thousand drivers have been caught drugged driving in the last two years. In 88 hours of observing breath testing checkpoints a researcher did not see a single drug impairment test conducted by a police officer. In comparison Police carry out more than 3 million breath tests for alcohol each year. There are particularly high risks from a driver who has combined a moderate amount of alcohol with another drug. This greatly magnifies their level of impairment but if they are stopped by Police currently they are likely to only be tested for alcohol.

What is the solution?

We are calling for the introduction of random saliva-based roadside drug testing. Australian police test drivers for a range of drugs and are sometimes now catching more drugged drivers than drunk drivers at checkpoints. Victorian police conduct about 45,000 roadside drug tests a year and the UK is also in the process of introducing roadside drug testing.

Safer roads

An extra 200km of median barriers or safety treatments web median barriers

What is the problem?

In 2012 there were 85 people killed and 981 injured in head-on crashes not involving overtaking. More people died in these types of crashes than any other. International best practice is for all high-speed roads carrying 10,000-15,000 vehicles per day to be divided but only 5% of New Zealand’s highway network is divided. On a busy highway, any crossing of the centreline due to inattention, distraction or fatigue has enormous potential to cause a devastating crash.

What is the solution?

We are calling for an additional 200km of median barriers or safety treatments to be implemented on high volume, high speed roads over the next three years. This would be targeted to routes where NZTA analysis identifies a high head on-crash risk.

Make cycling safer web cycling

What is the problem?

About nine people are killed and 800 injured every year while riding a bike. Cyclists are among the most vulnerable road users and we know that people will make mistakes, both when driving or cycling. Any crash between a person on a bike and a vehicle has huge potential for harm and cycling will not deliver the benefits it could as an alternative mode of transport unless the risks of crashes like this are greatly reduced or eliminated. With cycling increasing in popularity, and having potential congestion and health benefits, the safety of cycling in our cities in particular needs to be an important focus.

What is the solution?

We are calling for the development of a national strategy to reduce the number of cyclists hurt and killed on our roads and to create networks of separated safe cycleways in our major cities. 61% of AA Members support creating more cycleways and facilities for people using bikes.

Safer vehicles

Car safety information at point of sale

What is the problem?

Most vehicles, both new and used, have safety ratings for how well they would protect occupants in a crash but most people are unaware of this. AA Member surveys show only 23% know the ANCAP safety rating of their vehicle. This lack of knowledge makes it difficult for people to choose the safest vehicle for their budget when buying a car.

What is the solution?

We are calling for the safety ratings and safety features of cars to be required to be displayed by dealers. Currently, a simple star-rating guide is required to be shown for a vehicle’s fuel economy and emissions. Giving people a similar measure of a vehicle’s safety is much more important.

Costs of motoring

Replace RUC with a diesel excise tax web fuel pump

What is the issue?

When New Zealand’s Road User Charges (RUC) was established in the 1970s, there were very few diesel cars and utes on our roads, and most RUC transactions were for heavy commercial vehicles. Now, 80% of the 600,000+ diesels on our roads are privately-owned light vehicles. Unlike petrol tax, RUC imposes considerable time and administration costs on motorists and can also be evaded. Each year the current RUC system creates compliance costs of more than $11m for light vehicle owners and at least $13m is lost in estimated light RUC evasion. The RUC system also discourages the uptake of light, fuel efficient diesel vehicles because they can pay more tax than fuel-efficient petrol cars like hybrids. Similarly, annual licensing charges for diesels are higher than for petrol vehicles, who pay a portion of their ACC levies in petrol tax. This means diesel cars that travel less are paying more than their fair share of ACC levies compared to petrol vehicles.

What is the solution?

We are calling for RUC to be removed for all light diesel vehicles and excise tax to be added at the pump instead in the same manner as petrol. Diesel vehicles above a certain weight would still be required to pay a supplementary RUC to compensate for the greater wear and tear they do to the roads. People using diesel off-road would be able to claim a rebate. This would eliminate time and compliance costs for the 464,000 owners of light diesels; reduce collection costs; reduce tax avoidance; and make it easier for car buyers to compare petroland diesel running costs. An added benefit would be encouraging less-safe and less fuelefficient older diesels to exit the fleet.

Dedicate traffic fines to road safety improvements

What is the problem?

There is a view among many motorists that traffic fines are more about revenue-gathering than safety and fairness. When the speed tolerance was reduced at the ed of 2013 for two months, 34% of AA Members said they thought the reason for the initiative was revenue gathering. Many other countries and every state in Australia direct fine revenue from traffic offences into funds that are then used for improving road safety.

What is the solution?

We are calling for an equivalent amount to the annual net fines paid by motorists to be used to fund road safety initiatives. These funds could be used for measures like providing alcohol interlocks and rehabilitation for drink drivers; red light cameras; median barriers; rumble strips; and flashing school zone/school bus signs. 93% of AA Members support fine revenue being dedicated to improve road safety. This would eliminate any claims of revenue gathering through traffic fines.

Fair rules for private parking

What is the problem?

There are no binding regulations or rules that govern privately-owned public car park operators. This means that motorists have no protection from being issued with unjustified and excessive fines. We have uncovered examples of motorists facing $450 tow charges to reclaim their vehicle, and $200 to release a wheel clamp. The current system leaves motorists with little option except to pay unjustified fines or go to the significant effort of challenging them at a Disputes Tribunal.

What is the solution?

We are calling for regulation of private car parking signage, penalties and enforcement so it is consistent with council parking regulations. We are also calling for the creation of an independent parking adjudicator to rule on parking disputes with council and private providers.

Infrastructure and public transport

Continue the RoNS programme web rons

What is the problem?

Some of our busiest and most important roads are not up to the standard they should be due to a lack of past investment. This results in slower travel times due to congestion, restricts economic growth and increases the risks of crashes.

What is the solution?

We are calling for the current RoNS programme to be completed in full and on schedule. Completing these projects will deliver safety and efficiency improvements on our busiest highways, as well as adding resilience to the network. We also support identifying future RoNS once the current programme is complete.

Invest more in the regions

What is the problem?

Our regional roads and highways perform a vital task in terms of carrying people and freight but they do not receive the same profile as the key routes for major population centres. There is concern in the regions over the end of regional R funding and that necessary and regionally important roading projects are not being progressed.

What is the solution?

Specific funds need to be designated for regional highways and a package of key provincial projects developed. These projects would be targeted to improve road safety, boost regional economic growth, provide network resilience, and boost tourism.

Improve public transport in Auckland

What is the problem?

As Auckland’s population continues to grow its congestion problems are forecast to worsen to near-gridlock levels. International research shows that reducing congestion levels requires action across all modes of transport. Improving Auckland’s public transport and cycling infrastructure is a key piece in solving the congestion puzzle. This must not come at the expense of completing the strategic road network and making the roads more effective, both of which are equally crucial for reducing congestion.

What is the solution?

Auckland needs to have an effective and affordable public transport and cycling network. We are calling for the Auckland Transport plan for increasing public transport provision in the city to be advanced. Aucklanders also need to be presented with clear information setting out the costs and benefits around different projects so they can make informed choices about the best value-for-money options for their city.

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