A huge reduction this year in NZ road fatalities, continuing a fantastic series.
What’s stark is the reduction since 1987, which is around about the time, as I recall, when the advertising campaigns really stepped up, drink driving was finally perceived by most people as a bad thing and random stops came in:
These stats are backed up by excellent work by Transport NZ, who publish annual reports and excellent source material.
Stuff’s lowest road toll since 1956 article mentioned these factors driving the drop:
- Driver education/people driving more safely
- Improved road engineering
- Safer vehicles engineering
- Police enforcement
Which ones matter the most? Easy – it’s road engineering and safer vehicles. Indeed you can heavily reduce the impact of idiot drivers by having separation of lanes, long, straight boring roads, big boring cars and perfect road surfaces. That would be the USA.
Then again – in Western Australia there are plenty of those – but their statistics are worse than NZ’s:
Lowest ACT is all-city driving, while WA has a huge amount of country driving. There are plenty of kangaroos on thise roads, and, as I’ve seen, plenty of appalling dirt and sand roads to lose control on.
Not only are those roads extremely dangerous, but there are also a lot of idiot drivers. The prevailing car for hoons in WA seem to be hotted up Commodores, combined with speed and alcohol, if Fremantle on a Friday night is anything to go by.
Indeed the rural areas contributed 106 of the 188 fatalities to November 2008, which is 56% of fatalities from 25% of the population. If that percentage stayed for December, then Perth itself is around NSW and ACT (Canberra) in death rates. But just look at the death rate for rural Western Australia – outrageous:
Aside from rural WA, NZ is the top of the list in death rates.
To me this is a fairly simple difference, and it is probably more apparent with vehicle miles. NZ’s roads are narrow, all corners and subject to a pretty astonishing array of weather conditions. Australia’s roads are wide, straight, more often separated from opposing lanes and subject to much milder weather.
Both countries have worked hard at reducing the road deaths – and the results show. Kudos to South Australia and ACT in particular, with ACT proving that a low starting point doesn’t mean it is hard to reduce even further towards Zero Fatalities. Queensland and WA lower the standard and show the least improvement. Is it related to the fact that they both have substantial rural areas with still appalling roads?
Percentage drop in road fatalities per population from 1998 to 2008