Simple mistakes shouldn’t cost lives

Posted by NZ Transport Agency on 27 March 2018

The NZ Transport Agency and NZ Police say the findings of a new AA Research report highlight the importance of the ‘safe system’ approach to reducing deaths and serious injuries on New Zealand roads.

The AA Research Foundation study, based on detailed reports from 300 passenger vehicle crashes that resulted in either a fatality or serious injury, found that ‘reckless behaviour’ including drink-driving and speeding contributed to around half of the fatal crashes studied, while around three quarters of the serious injury crashes studied involved drivers who were generally obeying the road rules but crashed after making a mistake.

“This report confirms the need to create a safe transport system which accommodates for human error so that simple mistakes don’t result in avoidable deaths and injuries on our roads,” says NZ Transport Agency Director of Safety and Environment Harry Wilson.

“The safe system concept underpins our approach to road safety, striving to prevent crashes and reduce the severity of crashes when they do occur. Rather than blaming the road user for causing a crash, it acknowledges that even responsible people sometimes make mistakes in their use of the road transport system.

“The safe system has four equally important pillars - safe roads and roadsides, safe vehicles, safe speeds and safe road use.

“We’re working to make improvements in all of those areas, and we hope this new report will help to broaden the road safety conversation beyond questions of ‘who was at fault’ in a crash, to look at the bigger picture and what we can do collectively to make our system safer,” Mr Wilson says.

Superintendent Steve Greally, National Manager Road Policing, says Police are working hard to contribute to a safe system by encouraging safer road use through prevention and enforcement.

“We know people can mistakes when they’re driving. That’s why we ask them to make good decisions to start with, to lessen the impact of mistakes.

“It’s simple things like making the choice to wear your seatbelt, because if you do make a mistake and crash, wearing your seatbelt greatly improves your chance of survival.

“It’s also why we ask people not to drive too fast - the speed you’re travelling at when you crash has a direct impact on whether you are able to walk away from a crash with your life, and if you do, on the severity of your injuries.

“The report shows that speed is one of the main issues leading to fatal and serious injury crash outcomes. Quite simply, less speed means less harm.”

For more information on the Safe System and how it is applied in practice, see: www.nzta.govt.nz/roads-and-rail/road-engineering/safety/safe-system/ 

The complete AA Research Foundation study can be found here

The NZ Transport Agency works to create transport solutions for all New Zealanders – from helping new drivers earn their licences, to leading safety campaigns to investing in public transport, state highways and local roads.