Economy drives high road toll, says safety campaigner

Press Release – Dog And Lemon Guide

Economy drives high road toll, says safety campaigner
The booming economy was probably to blame for this year’s higher road toll, says the car review website

Editor Clive Matthew-Wilson, who is an active road safety campaigner, says:

Multiple studies have shown that the road toll falls during recessions and rises during economic booms. Scientists believe that a booming economy means that the highest risk drivers have more money to buy petrol and make long trips. People become less cautious in their behaviour. When the economy falls, people have less money for fuel and become more cautious. So, the road toll goes up and down with the economy. It sounds crazy, but it’s true.”

“Healthy economies overseas have also powered an increase in tourism, which inevitably leads to a number of tourist-related accidents.”

Too many trucks

Matthew-Wilson adds that in a healthy economy, the number of trucks using main roads tend to rise, with a corresponding rise in road deaths.

“Trucks make up about 2.5% of the vehicle fleet but cause 17% of all road deaths. Even though trucking accidents have dropped in recent years, trucks are still a major hazard.”

“Obviously, we can’t do without essential services such as rural stock trucks and milk tankers, but we can do without most of the long-haul freight trucks using public roads.”

“Long haul freight trucks are not only a serious road hazard, but they’re often not necessary. The government’s own studies show that transporting goods by sea freight and rail is far more efficient than transporting goods by truck.”

“I’m not attacking truck drivers, who are generally highly skilled and courteous to other motorists. I’m attacking the system that effectively pits cars and trucks against each other. Often the truck driver is not at fault, but when a car and a truck collide, size wins.”

Tourist drivers remain serious problem

Matthew-Wilson has also called for action to reduce the number of serious accidents involving overseas tourists, beginning with a ban on tourists driving vehicles for 24 hours after they arrive.

“Driving tired is as dangerous as driving drunk. Rental car firms would not be allowed to rent a car to a drunk driver, but are allowed to rent a car to a traveller who’s liable to fall asleep and kill someone. This is just wrong.”

Matthew-Wilson believes all drivers – including New Zealanders – should pass a simple, computer-based competency test before being allowed to rent vehicles.

“The rental industry needs to weed out the bad drivers and unsafe vehicles. The government needs to fix up our roads, so simple mistakes don’t turn into tragedies”.

“In the 1980s, the Auckland harbour bridge used to suffer one serious road accident every week. After a concrete barrier was installed down the middle, the serious accidents stopped immediately. There wasn’t one less hoon or drunk driver, yet the accidents stopped, simply because the road was changed in a way that prevented mistakes from becoming fatalities.”


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