It’s an admirable aspiration, but delusional – and even the government's spin doctors know it. That’s why the “zero” goal is in fact a 40 per cent reduction in death and serious injuries by 2030,
Even that is wishful thinking.
Slogans are not solutions but slogans epitomise the Ardern administration: “The team of 5 million”; “The Road to Zero”.
It’s mindless rubbish, but it’s also insulting. Clearly, those who are actually paid to dream up this “creative” nonsense, think we believe it. Sadly, they may be right enough to get away with it. And having a paid-off, biased left-wing media helps them convince enough lemmings that the promised land beyond the seaside cliff is better than a life where one must think for oneself.
But should we expect anything more substantial than slogans and puff from an undergraduate with a Communication Studies degree in politics and public relations, and work experience incubated within left-wing politics? Of course not. Clearly, in the make-believe world of Jacinda Ardern, words speak louder than actions.
The Ardern government has been little more than slogans and Orwellian contradictions tailored to a gullible audience: The team of five million – defined by race. A Public Interest Journalism Fund - that prioritises government policy before public interest.
And so it is with the Road to Zero. In December 2019 the Government published the strategy for 2020–2030 and an initial 3-year action plan that expired on 1 January.
It states, “The strategy outlines a plan to stop people being killed or injured on our roads. It includes our vision, 7 principles, 5 focus areas and targets — including the target of a 40% reduction in death and serious injuries (from 2018 levels) by 2030.”
How’s that going?
Not so good.
In 2022, 378 people died on our roads, the same number as in 2018. That’s zero progress on the road to zero.
If the Hon Michael Wood were to be questioned about this – and likely he won’t by the recipients practising Public Interest Journalism – he would probably say something like this:
“It’s a problem we inherited from the National Party but excellent progress has been made. As tragic as the loss of life is, many more people would have died had the policies not been in place and even greater gains will be made when the full effects of these visionary policies flow through to positive results”.
And maybe he would be right. Maybe 151 fewer people will die on our roads each year by 2030 and just maybe no one will die on our roads by some unknown year in the future. Or maybe it will just be more huff and puff like Kiwibuild which promised 100,000 homes and has delivered 1,366 to date. Maybe the Road to Zero is just more political hot air.
Here’s what the Road to Zero has achieved. It has produced a strategy document.
The problem is words and pictures don't save lives – they don't even fill potholes!
There seem to be a couple of initiatives that are being put into effect. The first is “action” point 3 on the 15-point plan.
“3. Introduce a new approach to tackling unsafe speeds (‘Tackling Unsafe Speeds’)”
That’s why they are reducing speed limits, to a level that puts mobility scooters at risk of speeding infringements. That’s not going down well with those who realise a more sensible solution is to build safer roads and safer cars. How many people will die on the road south of Whangarei because Labour has canned the four-lane highway so they can build cycleways for escooters?
The second is “action” point 9.
“9. Strengthen the regulation of commercial transport services.”
That’s where the road regulators come up with the bright idea to get the older trucks off the road, so they send a memo out to the vehicle testing stations to get tougher on Certificate of Fitness checks. They are so tough that the owner of a transport engineering company remarked that he had six vehicles in his workshop that day for “rust issues” that were barely visible. The engineering company is doing well at the truck owners’ expense because the politicians like Michael Wood need to have a blah blah blah answer if he is ever asked how the Road to Zero is going.
Minimising deaths on the road is a very commendable goal and would be very achievable, if no one were to actually use the roads.
The real world is always about minimisation and trade-offs, and in that regard one can have more faith in the very smart car makers coming up with solutions aimed at eliminating human error.
What can be expected from our politicians is that they provide roads that are safe, but then, these are the same people that are challenged by potholes, so expecting safe roads may be a bit ambitious and their Road to Zero is a road to nowhere.
Frank Newman, a writer and investment analyst, is a former local body councillor.