A fail for zero tolerance

January 5th, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Critics have labelled a zero-speed-tolerance campaign a failure as the holiday road toll is more than double last year’s.

A crash in Christchurch this morning brought the number of the people to die on our roads this holiday period to 17. …

Throughout the holiday period police had a zero-tolerance campaign on speeding and also targeted drink-driving after lower limits were introduced last month.

But police were left dismayed at the role speed and alcohol played in the high toll.

“This is more than disappointing. It’s devastating that so many people have lost their lives these holidays and due to the same common factors,” road policing assistant commissioner Dave Cliff said.

“It is a bad decision to drive after drinking. It’s that simple.

“No-one can afford to not intervene and stop their family member or friend from getting behind the wheel after drinking.

“You may think it’s OK, we’ll be right and it won’t happen to them. But crashes are happening, people are getting seriously injured and people are dying.”

NZ First police spokesman Ron Mark said the toll was evidence the zero-tolerance speed campaign was a “failed experiment” and accused the police and the Government of “stealth taxation” via speeding fines.

“It has precious police resources sucked up making good drivers feel like criminals instead of focusing on those driving too fast, too slowly or too badly,” he said.

Drivers were anxious about being caught just over the limit, Mark said: “People are saying to me that instead of driving to the conditions, their eyes are darting from the speedo to road and back again and that every time they see a police car, they instinctively brake despite being well within the speed limit.”

Road-safety campaigner Clive Matthew-Wilson, editor of The Dog and Lemon Guide, said the idea that heavy speed-limit enforcement would lower the road toll was “nonsense”.

He said 80 per cent of road deaths happened under the speed limit.

The remaining 20 per cent of fatalities were caused by high-risk drivers who were “almost exclusively yobbos, impaired drivers or motorcyclists – all of whom are basically immune to road safety messages”.

The zero tolerance policy just punished thousands of motorists for driving at 102 km/hr on a motorway. It made it impossible to legally pass a car doing 90 km/hr, so effectively slowed down all single lane roads.

The tolerance policy is an operational decision for Police, not the Government. However the Minister can tell the Police that he thinks it is a bad idea, and hopefully they will listen.

Overstating our road toll

June 5th, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The Press editorial:

By just about any measure, New Zealand driving is worse than in any comparable developed country. When, 40 years ago, the carnage on the roads was much higher it was taken as the price to be paid for road travel. The losses suffered now, while tragic for individuals and families, are looked upon in the same way. They should not be. Just as 40 years ago a very large proportion of them were avoidable, so they are now. We should all be doing more to avoid them.

This is not true. We are near the middle of the OECD.

In 2011 18 OECD countries had a higher road toll per 100,000 population and 18 had a lower one. On 2013 data we would appear to be doing even better with 22 countries having a higher toll and 14 a lower toll.

This is not to say we don’t want to keep reducing the road toll. But an editorial which claims we are worse than any comparable developed country is quite simply wrong. The 2013 road toll was 5.7 per 100,000 population.

The ever dropping road toll

January 1st, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

The 2013 road toll is 254 dead, an 18% drop on 2012. This is the 2nd largest percentage drop since 1974. The largest was in 2011 when it dropped 24%.


As you can see the road toll is at a 60 year low. It peaked in 1973 at 843 and then dropped to 554 in 1979. After that it increased again to 795 in 1987. Since then it has generally been declining.



When you measure it per 10,000 vehicles, the trend is stark.

The 2012 road toll

January 2nd, 2013 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Last year New Zealand recorded its second lowest road toll in 50 years, with the deaths of young people significantly stemmed, police say.

At midnight, the provisional road toll stood at 306 – slightly higher than the previous year’s record low of 284 deaths.

While disappointing to go up, the 2011 figure was the lowest figure ever, being a drop of 100 on the year before. The last six years have been:

  • 2007 – 421
  • 2008 – 366
  • 2009 – 384
  • 2010 – 375
  • 2011 – 284
  • 2012 – 306

Transport policies for Labour

July 27th, 2010 at 5:24 pm by David Farrar

I blogged yesterday on how Labour had announced:

“Labour would support the lowering of the alcohol limit, because anything that will save lives on our roads is worth doing,” says Ms Fenton.

Readers helpfully suggested a number of policies for Labour, which meet their criteria of saving lives on the road, regardless of the impact it has on motorists. Some of them include:

  • All cars to be fitted with 1-metre thick foam rubber bumpers.
  • All cars to have a man with a flag and loudhailer walking in front of them to alert pedestrians of the imminent appearance of a motor vehicle.
  • Abolish cars, everyone to travel by moonhopper.
  • All vehicles to be painted violent pink for improved visibility.
  • Data loggers for every vehicle with instant tolls and fines, combined with implants on people to catch the cyclists and skateboarders on any decent hill
  • Abolish roads
  • A “Working for Families Ferrari tax credit”
  • Mandatory roller derby style body armour for all children
  • Allow only one person per car so there is no distracting chatter
  • A ban on Prime Ministerial motorcades
  • Stop running trains on any tracks which cross roads by means of level-crossings
  • Make all roads one way.

All of these excellent proposals will clearly significantly reduce the road toll, and hence are “worth doing”. I look forward to seeing them in Labour’s 2011 manifesto.

Labour’s balanced transport policy

July 26th, 2010 at 8:18 pm by David Farrar

Labour’s Darien Fenton has said:

“Labour would support the lowering of the alcohol limit, because anything that will save lives on our roads is worth doing,” says Ms Fenton.

So we know what to look forward to if Labour get elected. Labour have said they will support anything that will save lives. Therefore I expect we will see:

  • A maximum speed limit of 30 km/hr. This will save hundreds of lives.
  • All cars to be fitted with technology which restricts speed to 30 km/hr
  • A doubling of petrol tax as pushing poor people off the roads will mean less traffic crashes.
  • A zero blood alcohol limit for all motorists
  • Carless Days, like under Muldoon, This should reduce the road toll by one seventh.
  • An offence to eat or drink while driving, as this can cause distractions
  • An offence to change the radio station while driving

What other policies can you think of for Labour, with their declaration that anything that will save lives on our roads is worth doing?

Road and water deaths down

January 1st, 2009 at 9:43 am by David Farrar

The 2008 road toll was 359, a 52 year low. The previous low in 1956 was at a time when there were one fifth the number of cars.

The Herald speculates increased fuel prices may have been a factor. They probably had some effect, but wouldn’t explain by itself the big dip from last year. However the best figure for international comparisons is the road toll per 10 million kms of road travel, so it will be interesting to see that.

Meanwhile the Dom Post reports:

The death of a man in north Canterbury’s Hurunui River yesterday took the year’s drowning toll to 96. …

Last year was only the second year since records began in 1980 that the national drowning total has stayed under 100. Dropping from 181 a year in the 1980s, the annual toll over the past decade has been around 119, getting down to 91 in 2006.

But still some way to go:

New Zealand had an “awful” international record for drowning deaths, Water Safety New Zealand general manager Matt Claridge said.

It sat third in the world after Brazil and Finland, with twice as many deaths as Australia and triple Britain’s toll.

And this may not help:

He repeated a warning yesterday that there was a lot worse to come. Last month he said that, because compulsory swimming lessons at schools were phased out in the 1990s, annual drownings were expected to get up to 180 again by 2030.

“The prospects for the future are worrying. If people don’t have the skills or make the right decisions, we’ll see those numbers go back up.”

Pupils were taught to swim in school pools in the 1960s and 1970s, but about 239 pools had closed between 2002 and 2005.

I didn’t realise swimming was no longer part of primary school. A pity.