A target of zero is a meaningless target

The Herald reports:

The Government has proposed an “audacious” target of zero deaths on New Zealand roads.

Associate Health Minister Julie Anne Genter announced plans for a new strategy this morning, which will include the “Vision Zero” target.

“A target of zero deaths is audacious, and it’s also been successful,” Genter told an audience of mayors, councillors and officials in Wellington.

“Countries like Canada, Sweden, and Norway all aim for zero road deaths and have considerably lower fatality rates than New Zealand.”

A zero target is a meaningless target and one that a Government does when it is too chicken to be held accountable.

If you have a realistic target such as a 10% reduction, then if you fail to meet it, you can have some accountability.

But a zero target means no one expects it to be met, so it will be ignored.

Why don’t we also have a target for zero cancer deaths?

If the Government was serious about zero road deaths, it would set a maximum speed limit of 30 km/hr.

Genter has tried to justify this zero target approach on the basis that Sweden halved their in 20 years using it. But this is nonsense as most countries have had their road tolls half. This is because roads and cares are safer.

Take NZ. In 1993 the road toll rate per 10,000 vehicles was 2.67. In 2013 it was 0.77 – a 71% reduction.

Australia has some good international comparative data. We can compare the following:

  • road toll per capita – NZ dropped 73.4% and Sweden 70.3%
  • road toll per vehicle – NZ dropped 75.8% and Sweden 76.5%
  • road toll per km – NZ dropped 57.1% and Sweden 62.2%

The beginning year is 1990 for the first two and 2000 for the last (as that is first year data for NZ. The end year is 2013 as that was the low point in our toll. So what we did from 1990 to 2013 has been just as successful as Sweden. Our focus should be on what has changed since 2013 and reversing it. Not on nonsense zero targets.

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