Minister: Building 'Roads of National Significance' won't cut road toll

Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Wednesday, 17 July 2019, 5:07PM
Julie Anne Genter denies that she is ideologically imposed to building new roads. (Photo / NZ Herald)

The Government is proposing a new road safety strategy, but it currently won't focus on building more roads.

Associate Transport Minister Julie Anne Genter today announced the new plan Road to Zero, aiming to cut road deaths by 40 per cent in the next decade.

The strategy, put out for consultation today, will follow Sweden's Vision Zero strategy which seeks to eliminate road deaths.

She told Heather du Plessis-Allan that they are aiming to get to a quarter of our current road toll, which hit 377 last year. 

If the new road safety strategy is implemented and is successful, that figure will drop to 226 or fewer in 2030, a reduction of 151 deaths.

She says that they want speed cameras to promote safer driving, rather than creating revenue. 

"In an ideal world, we wouldn't get any revenue from speed cameras. We would just have fewer deaths on our roads." 

Rules will be changed to make it easier for councils to change local speed limits, while speed in front of schools will also be up for debate.

Genter does not to set lower speed limits across the board, but allow more local decision making that involves the communities. 

"What we really want to do is empower local authorities to put in place speed limits that their communities are calling for without having to do a lot of bureaucratic hoop jumping." 

The speed outside urban schools could be reduced to 30km/h across the country, or 60km/h in front of rural schools.

However, the plan will not include building the National Govermment's 12 Roads of National Significance. 

Genter says that the roads are not on ice, and there are improvements being looked at. However, they do not want to follow National's exact strategy. 

"They would have had to put up a petrol tax to pay for it. There would have been less money for safety improvements all across the network." 

Genter says that only five per cent of deaths and injuries happen on those roads, which would have taken 10 years to complete.

"In the meantime, we would not have prevented 96 per cent of deaths and serious injuries." 

The Minister denies that she is ideologically imposed to building new roads, but that they instead want to spend the money on ways that will save as many lives as possible. 

"You throw a billioon or two billion to save two lives a year, but what are you going to do about the other 375 deaths?" 

She does not think that private-public investments would guarantee increased road safety, and there is no guarantee that the roads will generate enough revenue to pay for them.

- with content from RNZ


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