NZ Transport Agency teams up with the Waikato Regional Council to spread the Safer Journeys message


Collaboration and consistent messaging are key ingredients in an initiative launched recently between the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) and Waikato Regional Council. The aim of this work is to assist the NZTA, the region's councils and road safety partners to significantly reduce Waikato's road related fatalities and serious injury crashes.

The NZTA and Waikato Regional Council have been discussing how to ensure 'Safe System' thinking can be further implemented through the Regional Road Safety Strategy, which is currently being reviewed. Small workshops began in July, in partnership with each council in the Waikato region.

Council roading teams, planners and elected members have been attending the local workshops.  Separate meetings with Police, Accident Compensation Corporation, district health boards, the Road Transport Association and National Roads Carriers are also part of the initiative.

Safer Journeys, New Zealand's Road Safety Strategy 2010-2020, envisions a safe road system increasingly free of death and serious injury. It includes the 'Safe System' approach, which represents a fundamental shift in the way we think about road safety.

"A 'Safe System' is greater than the sum of its parts," says NZTA Regional Director (Waikato/Bay of Plenty), Harry Wilson.  "Even slight improvements across roads, speeds, vehicles and users will lead to proportionally greater safety outcomes.  Working together with our road safety partners on initiatives such as these workshops, helps ensure greater road safety for everyone."

The Waikato Regional Transport Committee noted in its July meeting that most actions identified in the Waikato Regional Road Safety Strategy 2009-2012 had been met over the past three years. At the current rate, Waikato is expected to have halved the number of road related fatalities by 2027 - 13 years earlier than noted in the original target. But the aim to reduce road related serious injuries by 25 per cent by 2040 is behind target.

Waikato regional councillor and regional transport committee acting chairperson, Paula Southgate, said that there is some hard work ahead to ensure a collective response to improving road safety.

"There is no quick fix to reducing our road toll and improving road safety generally in the Waikato. This effort will require everyone's involvement - from our stakeholders and all road users - if we are to see some continued positive change in the region."

A 'Safe System' includes:

  • safe roads and roadsides that are predictable and forgiving of mistakes - their design should encourage appropriate road user behaviour and safe speeds
  • safe speeds that suit the function and level of safety of the road - road users will increasingly understand what travelling at safe speeds means and willingly comply with speed limits
  • safe vehicles that help prevent crashes and protect road users from crash forces that cause death or serious injury
  • safe road use, ensuring that road users are skilled and competent, alert and unimpaired, and that people comply with road rules, choose safer vehicles, take steps to improve safety and demand safety improvements.