Government negligence driving high road toll

The New Zealand government has utterly failed to take effective action to lower the road toll, says the car review website,

Editor Clive Matthew-Wilson was commenting after two middle-aged tourists collided head-on with a truck in rural Canterbury last Sunday.

“Many New Zealand rural roads are like a staircase without a handrail: you make a mistake and there’s a high chance of getting hurt.”

“Worse, this is the second fatal head-on collision on this road in recent years.”

In 2017, two tourists driving a Jucy rental campervan were killed when they crossed the centre line and collided head-on with a pickup.

In both cases, fatigue was suspected as the cause of the accidents.

Matthew-Wilson says the government also appears to be “asleep at the wheel” as the road toll continues to climb.

“I have been saying for years that there should be a compulsory 24 hour rest period before overseas travellers are permitted to rent vehicles in this country. The dead bodies are proof that I was right.”

“In addition, the simple fact is: median barriers would have prevented both collisions, yet our incredibly slack government can’t seem to even build a fence down the middle of the road.”

Despite promising to roll out 198km of median barriers by mid-2021, just 16km of median barrier was installed on roads last year. Just 5% of New Zealand highways have median barriers.

There have been no fatal crashes on the new 18 kilometre Kapiti expressway between Mackays and Peka Peka, north of Wellington, compared with seven in the previous two years on the old route.

Matthew-Wilson adds:

“The government doesn’t need to rebuild every road in the country, it just has to put median barriers down the existing highway network. It’s not rocket science; it just requires wisdom, compassion and awareness.”

“Sadly, the police and government are still largely locked into a 1950s mentality where the real problem is seen as bad driving. As I grow hoarse pointing out, there is simply no credible scientific evidence that trying to change high-risk driver behaviour has any effect whatsoever.”

“The drivers who use the Kāpiti expressway aren't behaving any better than they were before the expressway was opened. It's just that the road has been altered in a way that stops bad driving turning into tragedy.”