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Nobody should die or be seriously injured as the result of the land transport system. However, road deaths have increased from 253 in 2013 to 380 in 2017, while the total number of deaths and serious injuries has increased from 2,215 to 3,185 during the same period.

Reversing New Zealand’s current trauma trends requires a transport system that is designed and operated for people, and one that considers their safety as the top priority.

The GPS 2018 reflects a significant lift in ambition for improving the safety of the land transport system. The NLTP responds to this by proposing a programme of initiatives that:

  • is targeted to the most significant risks: Investment will focus on reducing the risk of head-on crashes, targeting high-risk intersections, making roads and roadsides more forgiving in the event of human error or mechanical fault, and protecting vulnerable users such as pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists.
  • can be delivered swiftly: A focus on highest-value interventions that can be delivered within the next three years and immediately deliver significant safety benefits. For safety interventions that may take more time to design and deliver, the Transport Agency is investigating procurement approaches to expedite delivery as much as possible.

State highways and local roads are safer for everyone

GPS 2018 supports investment in safety improvements on state highways and local roads – targeting investment at roads and roadsides that will have the greatest impact on reducing deaths and serious injuries.

The Transport Agency is working with local government to sharpen core asset management practices through increased use of lower cost safety interventions such as improving skid resistance, improving signs and markings (including rumble strips), targeted seal widening, and maintaining cycling and pedestrian facilities to make routes safer for all modes.

There is an increase in investment in road safety through the 2018–21 NLTP, particularly through the introduction of the Safe Networks programme. The Transport Agency will work closely with local government and its road safety partners to deliver the programme, concentrating on high-risk routes across New Zealand.

Safe Networks will focus on safe roads and roadsides, safe and appropriate speeds and safe level crossings. These actions will make roads more forgiving of human error, which will lower trauma rates. This will be complemented by continued investment in road safety maintenance, advertising and education, road policing, and public transport, all of which support improved safety outcomes.

Interventions will typically include median and roadside barriers, intersection improvements such as roundabouts, measures to improve safety for motorcycles, safety enhancements for walking and cycling such as better lane separation, and speed management. This will make roads and roadsides more forgiving in the event of human error or mechanical fault, and will protect vulnerable users such as pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists.

Safe speeds

GPS 2018 supports investment in state highways and local roads to accelerate the implementation of the new Speed management guide, focusing on treating the top 10 percent of the network which will result in the greatest reduction of death and serious injury as quickly as possible.

Speed affects both the likelihood of a crash and the severity of crash outcomes. Achieving safe and appropriate speeds across the network results in significant safety gains for all road users.

During the next three years, the Transport Agency will:

  • work with road controlling authorities to accelerate the implementation of the Speed management guide, targeting the top 10 percent of the network
  • focus in particular on the Auckland, Waikato and Canterbury regions where the greatest safety gains can be made
  • invest in safety improvements, such as median barriers and rumble strips on selected roads to enable current limits to be maintained
  • invest in an evidence-based national advertising and education campaign on speed management to support community engagement and help build public understanding and support for safer speeds
  • work with the NZ Police to coordinate speed management with the enhanced fixed safety camera programme, and to consider introducing point-to-point cameras.

Safe road use through appropriate education and promotion activities and regulatory changes

GPS 2018 supports investment in initiatives to improve road user behaviour and community understanding of road safety through the road safety promotion activity class.

The Transport Agency will continue to invest in advertising and other behavioural change programmes to help the community understand and support the need for infrastructure improvements, speed management and other road safety initiatives.

The 2018–21 NLTP’s education and advertising programme will support police enforcement activities and address a number of themes, including distraction, fatigue, young drivers and motorcycling.

The Transport Agency will invest in an evidence-based national advertising and education campaign to help build public understanding and support for safer speeds, and are working with the NZ Police to co ordinate the enhanced fixed safety camera programme and consider the introduction of point-to-point cameras.

Other activities include the BikeReady programme, which provides cyclists with the skills and experience they need to feel safe on our transport network, and exploring innovative ways for advertising campaigns to reach people who persistently don’t wear seatbelts.

Effective enforcement activity to promote safe behaviour by road users

The GPS 2018 supports investment in effective enforcement activity to promote safe behaviour by road users.

The Transport Agency, Ministry of Transport and NZ Police have formed a road safety partnership to implement a new operating model and a new investment and funding approach to support joined-up delivery of the Road Safety Partnership Programme. The partnership will promote safe behaviour by road users and support greater uptake of technology needed to support the sector wide focus on safe speeds to reduce avoidable harm.

The 2018–21 Road Safety Partnership Programme will support the police to achieve their operational target of a 5 percent reduction in road deaths each year to 2030. Police will take an enforcement and prevention approach targeted to highest risk, including:

  • speed management with a mix of manual and automated enforcement and intervention
  • impairment – including alcohol, drug and fatigue related impairment
  • restraints – including seatbelts, child restraints and helmets
  • distractions – including mobile phone use, careless use and distracting behaviours
  • high-risk drivers – including recidivist and high-end, risk-taking behaviours
  • vulnerable and active users – including the elderly, children, pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists
  • network maintenance and efficiency – through effective crash investigation practices
  • vehicle and operator safety and compliance – including regulatory compliance of commercial vehicles and driving.

Safer vehicles

GPS 2018 supports investment in improving the vehicle fleet.

Recent research shows that improving the proportion of light vehicles with high safety ratings will reduce road trauma:

  • 66% of death and serious injury crashes are in 1 and 2 star safety rated vehicles that offer little safety protection – these make up 45% of the light vehicle fleet.
  • People lack awareness of the role their vehicle plays in keeping them safe – either in reducing the likelihood of a crash or protecting occupants if a crash happens.

Improving the proportion of light vehicles with high safety ratings will reduce road trauma. The Transport Agency is developing an integrated communications programme, in partnership with the vehicle industry, to:

  • raise awareness among consumers of the important role the vehicle plays in a crash, and highlighting the benefits of 4 and 5 star vehicles
  • encourage those consumers who can afford to do so to scrap their 1 and 2 star vehicles
  • ensure safety information is available at the point of sale.
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