Road safety campaigner says Waka Kotahi should reconsider 'Road to Zero' approach
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Road safety campaigner, Geoff Upson, says the NZ Transport Agency, Waka Kotahi, should reconsider its approach to preventing crashes on New Zealand roads.
Earlier this year, Waka Kotahi launched its 'Road to Zero' campaign, which aims to have zero deaths or serious incidents on the country's roads by 2050.
Upson has been campaigning to make Aotearoa's roads safer since 2018, and says the Road to Zero campaign should focus more on the quality of the country's roads, rather than on dropping the speed limits.
In an interview with Three's AM, he said "forcing us to drive slowly is not the way to do that we need to be focusing on more important things."
"Driver education [and] basic motor vehicle handling skills are something that this country is lacking. For example, most people don't even know what a tyre footprint is. "Basic motor vehicle handling skills are not something that we are required to know or understand, in order to get a driver's licence," he said.
He added that dropping speed limits will only frustrate drivers.
"I drove from Auckland to Wellington last weekend which could've added an hour or an hour and a half if all of these speed limits were reduced from what I consider a safe and appropriate 100km/h down to a slower 80km/h or even a slower 60 km/h."
"Then we look at other issues such as fatigue, falling asleep at the wheel - we are going to see more frustration, tailgating and that's what we are seeing on these roads where the speed limit has been reduced."
He also said that the Government isn't using sufficient taxpayer money for road maintenance.
"We pay a lot of money, we pay road user charges, we pay fuel tax, we pay petrol tax, we pay regional fuel tax, obviously we pay annual rego fees - so we are contributing a huge amount of money to fix the road yet that money is being spent on other things," he said. "We need to be cancelling things like the speed bumps, for example, there was one speed bump that was $250,000 - that's a quarter of a million dollars for one speed bump."
He believes that spending that amount of money on speed bumps should mean there's enough to be spent on other road maintenance too.
A statement by a spokesperson for Minister of Transport Michael Wood says: "The Government is investing close to $7 billion in local road and state highway maintenance as part of the NLTP 21-24, which will see around 7,000 lane kilometres of state highway and 18,000 lane kilometres of local roads renewed. Since coming into government, we have boosted road maintenance spending by nearly 50 per cent to help bring our roads back up to scratch."