Last year the New Zealand road toll went up by a bit more than 1 person on average every day. 379 people lost their lives over 365 days. Some were cases of speeding. Some were cases of drunk driving causing death. Some were cases of people being on the wrong side of the road.
Whatever the cause of their deaths, the toll on their families, on New Zealand as a nation and on the police, the fire and ambulance services that had to attend the crashes is dreadful. Someone has to scrap the remains of deceased humans off the road. Someone has to go to the next of kin of the deceased or contact them by phone to say their loved one has died in a road crash. An investigator has to go to wherever the damaged cars were taken to examine the damage to them.
It is playing questionable politics to think that this can be solved by building new roads. Yes it is true that some of our roads are in not that great condition. But it is rather deceiving to be claiming as the Young Nats (the youth wing of the National Party)are doing, that by not pursuing their roading projects, the new Government is missing an opportunity to address the surging road toll.
The simple fact of the matter is, you can spend billions on road projects as National proceeded to do, but great looking roads do not – and will not – fix crap driving decisions. Only the individual driving the car/s involved in a smash can fix poor judgement by learning from their mistakes. If you are driving, you leave a two second driving gap between you and the car in front. If you are driving in wet conditions or visibility is bad, you double the length of time you need to leave between you and the car in front.
None of that is rocket science. None of that is even science.
But it is in the Road Code.
To some extent this is deliberately deceitful in that, the New Zealand Young Nats are not silly. They know full well what their message is saying, but they also know just as well that their message is pulling blue wool down over people’s eyes.
Law changes may help address the road toll, such as a revision of the demerit point scheme which I have described in earlier posts. So will alcohol locks in the cars of convicted drunk drivers that prevent the vehicle from being driven should the locking device detect alcohol.
Law enforcement by Police will also help
Most people know better than to drive drunk. And some of you – including myself – have stopped drunks from driving.
But none of these involve building roads. None of these involve the expenditure of billions of dollars of tax payer money on pet projects that only serve a few, cause considerable environment damage and in the worst case scenario may wind up being a big white elephant.
So spare me the crap about how your roading projects will cut the death toll. Last I looked even the newest and straightest bits of road are capable of having crashes on them because the driver/s involved were not driving to the conditions and/or paying attention.