Campaigner slams government over road toll

 The vast majority of road accidents are preventable with technology, says the car review website

Editor Clive Matthew-Wilson, who is an active road safety campaigner, says:


“While people continue to die on our roads, the so-called experts keep asking people to drive safely and the police issue thousands of speeding tickets. These are the failed policies of the past.”


“Most fatalities occur below the speed limit. Of the 20% of fatalities that occur above the speed limit, most involve either drunks, motorcyclists or young working-class males who live on the edge of the law. There is simply no evidence that rigid enforcement of speed limits has made the slightest difference to the behaviour of these high-risk drivers.”


"Obviously, the police should never tolerate reckless driving, but the current tactic of trying to stop the highest risk offenders by ticketing ordinary motorists simply hasn't worked."


Matthew-Wilson adds:

“30 years of international studies have shown that asking people to drive safely is an expensive waste of time.”

 “What does work is changing the roads and cars. In the 1980s, the Auckland harbour bridge used to suffer one serious road accident every week. After a concrete barrier was installed down the middle, most of the serious accidents stopped immediately. There wasn’t one less idiot or drunk driver, yet the accidents stopped, simply because the road was changed in a way that prevented mistakes from becoming fatalities.”


study by Monash University of the effectiveness of roadside fencing and median barriers concluded that: “reductions of up to 90% in death and serious injury can be achieved, with no evidence of increased road trauma for motorcyclists.”


Matthew-Wilson adds that many fatal accidents involve vehicles without Electronic Stability Control.


“When a vehicle loses control, you can blame bad driving, but it’s more useful to blame bad car design.”


2006 study by the American Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), concluded that ESC reduces the likelihood of


●     all fatal crashes by 43%;

●     fatal single-vehicle crashes by 56%, and

●     fatal single-vehicle rollovers by 77-80%.


Matthew-Wilson adds that, although the road toll is dropping with time, the variations from one year to the next tend to follow the economy.


Multiple studies have shown that the road toll falls during recessions and rises during economic booms. Scientists believe that a booming economy means that the highest risk drivers have more money to buy petrol and make long trips. People become less cautious in their behaviour. When the economy falls, people have less money for fuel and become more cautious. So, the road toll goes up and down with the economy. It sounds crazy, but it’s true.”