A leading road safety campaigner has accused the government of hypocrisy after the Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee blamed the age of the vehicle fleet for slowing down improvements in road safety.
Clive Matthew-Wilson, who edits the car review website dogandlemon.com, says the government has consistently blocked many affordable and effective moves to lower the road toll.
“The government knows that if all vehicles used daytime running lights*, the road toll would drop significantly, at very little cost to the consumer or the government. Yet, just last year, the transport minister rejected this vital measure.”
“The government knows that unsafe roads contribute to nearly a third of the road toll**, but won’t fix many of the highest risk roads.”
“The government knows that Electronic Stability Control is a vital life-saving measure, yet refuses to make it compulsory on new vehicles.”
“The government knows that safe vehicles are important, yet refuses to require its own departments to purchase the safest vehicles in their class.”
“The government encourages a transport system where those without a car simply can’t get around. Yet, the government blames poor people for driving the only vehicles they can afford.”
“The government knows that road safety can be dramatically improved for a relatively small cost, yet it persists in blaming the victims, instead of taking responsibility for a road toll that should be falling far faster than it is.”
*According to European studies on the effectiveness of DRLs in improving road safety, the potential savings are:
• 25% of daytime multi-vehicle fatal accidents (11% of all non-pedestrian fatal accidents)
• 28% of daytime fatal pedestrian accidents (12% of all fatal pedestrian accidents)
• 20% of daytime multi-vehicle injury accidents
• 12% of daytime multi-vehicle property accidents
Daytime running lights are available online for as little as $20 and can be installed on most cars in less than an hour. Due to improvements in LED technology, modern daytime running lights in most cases use less electricity than a conventional car stereo.
**The AA estimates that measures such as such as installing wire rope centre barriers and rumble strips could prevent up to 90 road deaths per year. That’s nearly a third of the current road toll.