Significant changes to New Zealand’s roads are in store to begin this year. These include a rollout of road maintenance and safety improvements, reviews of speed limits/fines and penalties, and improved car safety standards.
It’s part of the New Zealand Transport Agency’s Road to Zero campaign, which had its public awareness launch today by Transport Minister Michael Wood and Police Minister Poto Williams.
The actual Road to Zero campaign has been around since 2019 and chalks out a plan to achieve zero road deaths by 2050.
The Government’s latest public awareness launch lists their ambitions for the new year. It includes:
- The ongoing rollout of a large programme of road maintenance and safety improvements to roads all over the country.
- Improved vehicle safety standards and a strengthened road safety partnership between Waka Kotahi (NZTA) and NZ Police.
- Reviews of speed limits and the confirmation of a new speed limit setting rule focused on safe speeds around schools.
- Developing and delivering a sustainable operating model for the rollout of new safety cameras, integrated with safer speed limits and targeting high-risk areas of the system.
- The commencement of a Ministerial Oversight Group to coordinate Government action in support of Road to Zero.
- The final stage of the Accessible Streets regulatory package to improve pedestrian safety.
- A review of fines and penalties.
- The finalisation of drug-driving legislation.
New roundabouts, side and median barriers and wider rumble strips are just a few specific road tweaks the police highlighted will be done this year on “high-risk” roads.
NZTA is also doing a nationwide review of speed limits on roads with high crash rates. We have already seen changes done to sections of road on State Highway 5, and most of Northland’s highways are expected to be dropped from 100 km/hr to 80 km/hr this year.
New Zealand Police Commissioner Andrew Coster says motorists should expect to see a stronger police presence on Kiwi roads.
“People should expect to see us anytime, anywhere working to keep people safe on our roads. It’s what they deserve,” he said.
“Our road policing activities focus on the high-risk behaviours of ensuring drivers and their passengers are buckling up, not impaired by drugs and alcohol nor distracted, and enforcing speed limits.”
The Government is investing $2.9 billion into the Road to Zero campaign over three years. Over $1 billion is reserved for road policing, a $120 million increase over previous years.
If successful, Transport Minister Wood believes the campaign will save “thousands of lives.”
“There’s a huge amount of work being done, and we won’t get to zero deaths and serious injuries overnight,” he said.
“But by having zero as the goal and working towards it with a clear plan and a hard target for 2030, we can save thousands of lives, which is well worth fighting for.”