Road Safety - Prevention and Enforcement Strengthened

  • Maurice Williamson

The Land Transport Bill will significantly strengthen New Zealand's package of road safety measures, Minister of Transport Hon Maurice Williamson announced today.

Mr Williamson was speaking today to the New Zealand Traffic Institute Conference in Wellington.

"We have made real gains in changing the New Zealand driving culture. The road toll is the lowest it has been for 30 years. Enforcement, education, media campaigns, and road reform which are all elements of the total road safety package, have contributed to this," the Minister said.

"The Land Transport Bill is another step forward for road safety in New Zealand. We are getting tough on those people who constantly refuse to obey the law.

"Historically the police have struggled to reach the hardcore of repeat offenders and repeat drink drivers. The roadside sanctions in the Bill would give the police the tools they need to make New Zealand's road safer."

The Transport and Environment Select Committee has reported back on the Land Transport Bill and Parliament will consider it shortly.

"On the weight of the evidence heard, the Committee has decided that the legal driving age should remain at 15."

Included within the Bill are increased penalties for drink driving; disqualified drivers who re-offend; and those who fail to stop after an accident.

The Police would be given extra powers to suspend licences and impound the vehicles of serious and repeat traffic offenders.

Police would be able to suspend a driver's licence for 28 days if the driver:

- has twice the legal alcohol limit
- refuses to give a blood sample
- is driving more than 50 kms over the speed limit and is caught by other methods than a speed camera

"If someone is breaking the law to this extent and endangering others they must be made to stop offending," the Minister said.

If Police catch a disqualified driver or someone who has previously been forbidden to drive on the road they would be able to impound their vehicle for 28 days.

"Drivers who have had their driving privileges removed should not be on the road. They have had them removed because they are a risk to themselves and to others."

The Bill also provides for photo licences and requires them to be carried at all times while driving.

"A photo licence will improve the integrity of the driver licensing system and enable police to immediately and accurately identify the driver of a vehicle they have stopped," the Minister said.

"An element of my vision for road reform, is that the new policy environment will make New Zealand roads safer. I want us to enter the new century with fewer deaths on our roads.

"A discussion document looking at further road safety issues such as demerit points for speed camera offences and lowering the blood alcohol limit will be released shortly, and I expect will further stimulate the debate on road safety issues," the Minister said.