Innocent people die because of unsafe roads and inadequate enforcement

The recent accident near Kaikoura, where two Malaysian children and their parents were killed in a head-on collision with a truck, was easily preventable, says the car review website

Editor Clive Matthew-Wilson, an outspoken road safety campaigner, says:

“First, if the road had had a median barrier, that accident could not have happened.”

“Second, many tourist accidents are related to fatigue. Tourists are tired and make a simple mistake that costs them their lives."

Matthew-Wilson has repeatedly called for a compulsory 24-hour stand down period before overseas travellers are allowed to drive vehicles.

“If tourists don’t rest when they first arrive, they are far more likely to have a serious accident a few days later. This has happened, again and again and again, yet the government still fails to act.”

“It is equally shameful that there is still no effective check on the competence of foreign drivers before they’re allowed to rent cars in this country.”

Matthew-Wilson is also disturbed that the children in the fatal crash were not wearing seatbelts.

“On many modern cars, there is a loud and annoying beeping that won’t go away until the occupants have all fastened their seatbelts. Why was this system apparently not working on this vehicle?”

Matthew-Wilson is equally frustrated that the authorities have failed to effectively enforce seatbelt use.

“A high percentage of people who die in car accidents are not wearing seatbelts. The current strategy of fining the occupants is clearly not working. In fact, the best evidence suggests fines and the threat of disqualification don’t work for the highest risk groups.”

“It’s so frustrating to hear the police and the news media begging people to wear seatbelts after accidents like this. The authorities have been saying the same thing for fifty years and it hasn’t worked. In fact, fifty years of research has shown that it’s useless to try and persuade people to wear seatbelts through publicity campaigns and advertisements.“

Matthew-Wilson believes the police should have the power to impound vehicles for up to a week when seatbelts have not been worn.

“At the moment, many people, especially in lower socio-economic areas, regard seatbelt use as optional. If they get a ticket, they add it to the other tickets, but rarely change their behaviour. Impounding offenders’ vehicles would be extreme, but would quickly send out a much tougher message.”