ORC criticises `unsophisticated' road safety strategy

The Otago Regional Council is urging the Government to take a more sophisticated approach to road safety and is critical of its Safer Journeys discussion document.

Transport Minister Stephen Joyce circulated the document last month and called for submissions on its "safer journeys" strategy, due to be completed in December.

In its submission, the council's transport committee says the approach "commonly taken" was "to try a range of approaches and hope one or more will work".

"That's essentially what the system-wide approach to road safety advocated in safer journeys intends.

"This is unsophisticated.

"There are better ways of identifying suitable policy measures . . ."

The submission, signed by committee chairman Stephen Woodhead, suggests the "prime reason" for New Zealand's poor safety record is that it did not take a "multimodal" approach to transport safety, instead focusing on car and truck travel.

"It is not a safer road system per se that we need, it is safer travel.

"We should be seeking to instil a culture of safer journeys in New Zealand."

The submission points out that the "least risky" travel mode is being a bus passenger, followed by walking, rail then car travel.

Cycling was riskier and motorcycling the most risky.

"If we are serious about reducing the social costs of crashes, we should be trying to increase the use of safer travel modes relative to riskier ones.

"We need to regard safer modes of travel as the preferred choice."

The submission considered there was a need for social change that valued such things as safe drivers and safe vehicles.

Society should reward good drivers, "empower" those who chose to walk or take buses or taxis and "disempower" those who put lives at risk.

It requested the Government take 12 urgent steps to reduce the cost of road trauma.

The submission considered the steps "should result in a dramatic reduction in both road crashes and flow-on costs to society" but were "unlikely to sustain an acceptably low level of road trauma over the longer term".

Rather than continuing to focus on the three Es of engineering, enforcement and education, "a more sustainable improvement in travel safety should take a broader approach".

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