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More median barriers to target black spots around the country and working towards a zero-target approach will be on the table tomorrow in a Government crisis meeting to tackle a rising road toll that has already reached a higher number this year than for all of last year.
Associate Transport Minister Julie Anne Genter said road safety was her top priority after the road toll reached 329 at the weekend - one more than all of last year and the highest since 2010.
She will meet officials from the Ministry of Transport and the NZ Transport Agency to discuss short-term and long-term options, such as funding for councils to target black spots that have been neglected because of a lack of money.
"By redirecting funding away from expensive projects like the east-west [motorway] we can free up a lot of money and help regional controlling authorities, local councils, make some of those urgent safety upgrades that they need to," Genter told Newstalk ZB this morning.
She said billions of dollars went into seven motorways, and some of it could be re-prioritised to fund, for example, low-cost median barriers in black spots around the country.
A Swedish expert told Auckland Council last week that if New Zealand had the same rate of crashes as Sweden, 200 fewer people would be dead every year. Sweden has had a zero target road toll strategy for the past 20 years.
"I've already signalled to officials, as we did during the campaign, that we want to investigate what a zero approach would look like in New Zealand," Genter said on Radio NZ's Morning Report.
"People will make mistakes, and it's our responsibility as the people building the infrastructure, designing the roads, designing the transport system, to do as much as possible to minimise harm."
She said one reason the road toll was higher was that people were driving more and the average age of a vehicle had risen to 14 years.
"We have to do what we can to improve the safety of the roads ... and then we also have to look into [making] it easier for people get around without using a car.
"We're going to have a huge focus on making it safe for kids to walk and cycle to school, we're going to invest in rapid transit in our cities, we're looking at regional passenger rail, and we're looking at rail and coastal shipping for freight which will get some of the big trucks off our roads."
Genter said younger drivers and male drivers tended to take more risks.
"We have to ensure that people are well trained, that people understand the risks. Nobody wants to be getting the phone call telling them their loved one or their friend has been killed or seriously injured in a car crash."