Official advice released to the Green Party under the Official Information Act shows that the previous National Government dismissed an option to make road safety its most important transport priority after being told the road toll was rising.
Ministry of Transport officials proposed making ‘road safety’ the highest strategic priority for the 2018 Transport Strategy, saying it would increase safety benefits (i.e. by saving lives and reducing serious injuries) by 17 percent.1 However, National chose ‘economic growth and productivity’ as its ‘key priority’ in its transport strategy.2
This comes on the back of analysis showing that 2017 is likely to become the deadliest year on the road since 2010 and the fourth year in a row that the road toll has risen.
“Effectively, the previous National Government decided that faster journeys for freight trucks were more important than saving lives," said Green Party transport spokesperson Julie Anne Genter.
“The next government needs to commit to a goal of zero harm on our roads to address the rapidly rising number of people being killed on them.
“The released documents also show some councils were concerned that expensive state highway projects were squeezing funding for smaller high-value, safety improvements.3
“National’s been obsessed with a building a few very expensive motorways and this has come at the cost of safety improvements on local roads that could’ve saved lives.
“Road deaths involving heavy vehicles have been rapidly rising, up 63 percent since 2013.
“A commitment by government to move greater amounts of freight by rail and sea would help save lives on our road," said Ms Genter.