This page answers some common questions about road safety and the proposed strategy.

You can also read about a few common myths and misconceptions in this document [PDF, 456 KB]

Why is road safety a priority?

  • Last year, 377 people were killed on our roads, and thousands more were seriously injured.
  • On average one person is killed every day and another is injured every hour. The ripple effects of these hundreds of deaths and thousands of injuries are traumatic for whānau, friends, communities and our nation.
  • The total social cost of motor vehicle injury crashes in 2017 is estimated to be $4.8 billion.

Is the increase in road deaths just because there are more cars on the roads?

  • A 2017 study found that only 2/3 of the increase in road deaths can be explained through the increase in vehicles and motorcycles on the road. 1/3 of the increase is difficult to explain.
  • In the past we have managed to reduce deaths and serious injuries on our roads – even while the level of vehicle travel has increased.
  • New Zealand now ranks in the bottom quarter of the OECD for road deaths per population. Countries like UK, Australia, Canada and France and Ireland deliver much safer road travel despite having larger populations and more vehicles on the roads. We need to do better.

What is being done about the current road deaths at the moment?

  • The Government has prioritised safety under the Government Policy Statement on land transport, and announced a $1.4 billion investment in infrastructure though the National Land Transport Fund.
  • NZTA’s Safe Networks Programme is delivering safety treatments and speed management changes to 870km of high risk state highways. This is estimated to reduce deaths and serious injuries on our roads by up to 160 a year.
  • Increased funding has ensured the number of dedicated road police officers have been restored to over 1000, and all dedicated officers have been issued with alcohol testing devices. The Government has also introduced mandatory alcohol interlock sentences.
  • The Government recognises the importance of driver training and licensing, and the Ministry of Transport recently completed an evaluation of the driver licensing regime to ensure the system supports road safety.
    • The Government has introduced new driver training and licensing initiatives such as the Driver Licensing Fund, targeted at 16 to 24 year olds who are not in education, employment, or training. Promotion of road safety through nation wide advertising campaigns is ongoing.
  • NZTA maintains a world-recognised road safety education and advertising programme, with current and recent focuses on speed; drink driving; drug driving; young drivers; vehicle safety; seatbelts; distractions; visiting drivers; cycling and keeping left
  • The Ministry is reviewing the framework for transport offences and penalties to ensure the penalties match the risk and help to motivate good driving behaviour.
  • Alongside the development of a new road safety strategy, the Government is also progressing some key actions for the initial action plan, including developing a regulatory package to improve safety for footpath users and encourage active transport; a new approach to speed management; consultation on approaches to strengthening drug driving enforcement; consultation on changes to mandate anti-lock braking systems (ABS) on motorbikes.

Why don’t you just train better drivers or spend more money on promotion?

  • Improving skill and behaviour, and educating through promotion activities is important, but only plays a small role in reducing risk.
  • Based on international evidence from the OECD International Transport Forum, even if everyone obeyed the road rules all the time, New Zealand would still have more than 180 deaths on the road each year.
  • Even really well-trained drivers can make a mistake. Other system changes – such as better road infrastructure, safer vehicles and effective enforcement – have been more effective at reducing road trauma.

How would the new strategy going to improve road safety?

  • The new road safety strategy will focus on the key areas that are proven to reduce road trauma and include clear measures to track progress.
  • The strategy will be supported by several action plans over the next 10 years, prioritising proven interventions that are backed by research.

What has been involved in creating the strategy so far?

  • Throughout the development of the strategy, the Ministry of Transport and partners have been having conversations across the sector and across the country to gather a diverse range of views and perspectives to inform our work; as well as reviewing research, overseas best practice, and working to build a better understanding of New Zealand’s unique challenges.
  • You can read more about the process here 

What’s the process from here?

  • The Government will consider feedback received during the public consultation process. This will inform the 2020-2030 road safety strategy and initial actions.

The final strategy and initial action plan will be published later in 2019. A summary of submissions received will also be published.