The government has today released two reports designed to give a better understanding of New Zealand's road safety record and how it could be improved. The release comes as transport officials work on a road safety strategy for the next ten years.
The first report looks at the level of progress made since 2000, analysing why progress has slowed and assessing how we stand relative to the goals outlined in the previous road safety strategy.
The second compares the situation here with that in Australia - in terms of both interventions and results.
Transport Minister Steven Joyce asked for the reports as part of the development of a national road safety strategy for the next ten years. They have been released today to further inform debate about which road safety interventions will have the most impact.
"In the past 30 years, there have been some major gains in road safety - the road toll has more than halved since its peak in 1973, while at the same time kilometres travelled have more than doubled," says Mr Joyce.
"But despite these gains, hundreds of New Zealanders are killed and thousands injured on our roads every year, mostly in preventable crashes.
"If we're serious about improving road safety, future changes need to be based on evidence and on the experience of similar countries - like Australia.
"The rate of deaths per 100,000 people in Australia in 2007 and 2008 was 7.6 and 6.9 respectively. This compares with 10 and 8.6 in New Zealand. So clearly there are lessons to be learnt here."
In August and September, the Ministry of Transport carried out public consultation on a range of ideas to make our roads safer.
Following on from that, the Minister has identified young drivers and recidivist drink drivers as priority areas for action.
"Young New Zealanders have a fatality rate of 21 per 100,000 of population, in Australia it's 13 per 100,000 - that a huge difference and we need to understand the reasons behind that, including the sorts of interventions in place across that Tasman that we don't have here," says Mr Joyce.
* In all but one State [ACT] the driving age is 16.
* In Victoria a probationary licence system is being introduced with a requirement for a good driving record to advance to the next licence stage.
* Queensland has introduced hazard perception testing into its graduated licensing testing.
* A number of states also have implemented or are implementing between 100 - 120 hours of driving practice to advance to the next licence stage while fines and demerit points for licence breaches are also in place in several states.
* Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland have vehicle restrictions for young drivers based on vehicle power.
Mr Joyce says it's unlikely that all of these changes will be made, but the Australian experience definitely provides food for thought.
The Minister wants to put a package on young drivers to Cabinet early next year as one of the first actions to flow from the new road safety strategy.
The Safer Journeys strategy will be released in early 2010, with initial actions implemented over the next year or two.
Reports available at www.saferjourneys.govt.nz