Speed limits and penalties under review in Government's road safety action plan

Speed limits and penalties around breaching rules are going under review as part of the Government's road safety action plan. 

Road policing will be prioritised, along with road safety infrastructure, increased access to driver licencing and training, and enhanced safety and accessibility of footpaths, bike lanes and cycleways. 

From 2021, NZTA will be required to produce a National Speed Management Plan every six years setting out proposed speed management reviews and safety infrastructure changes on the state highway network.

Also part of the plan is introducing more speed cameras - but instead of operating them under the current 'anytime, anywhere' approach, they will be clearly signposted. 

NZTA and police will be responsible for the implementation of the new approach to safety cameras.

It all falls under the Government's Road to Zero strategy, roughly based on Sweden's Vision Zero approach, which aims to achieve a system with no fatalities or serious injuries involving road traffic. 

"Road to Zero includes a new commitment to boost road safety investment by 25 percent to around $1 billion per year over the next decade," Associate Transport Minister Julie Anne Genter said on Thursday. 

It followed a $1.4 billion investment in road safety announced last year, pledged to projects around median and side barriers, rumble strips and shoulder widening. 

The new investment will include 1000km of additional median crash barriers, 1500 intersection upgrades like roundabouts and raised pedestrian crossings, and more than 1700km of other safety treatments like roadside crash barriers. 

It will also fund new enforcement technologies for police, including drug testing equipment, which is expected to come into force in 2021

"To drive real action Road to Zero sets a target to reduce annual deaths and serious injuries by 40 percent by 2030 - compared to the 377 people killed last year," Genter, a Green MP, said. 

"Meeting this target would save 750 lives and prevent 5600 serious injuries on New Zealand roads over the next decade."

Public consultation was invited in July-August 2019, after it was announced in July, and more than 1000 submissions were received. 

"During consultation, New Zealanders sent a very clear message that they were not prepared to accept the trauma on our roads, and they want change," Genter said. 

Genter already announced last month that drivers would soon be forced to drive slower around schools in a bid to get more kids to walk and cycle to school instead of having parents drop them off in a car. 

Automobile Association (AA) policy manager Simon Douglas said the new road safety strategy's goal of reducing deaths and injuries from crashes by 40 percent over the next decade is "ambitious". 

"There is no doubt that New Zealand can do much better in terms of road safety, but it will take a lot of work across many areas to make it a reality."