Zero car target for zero road toll, or zero credibility?

Following her lost leadership bid Green minister Julie Anne Genter is still seeking attention, this time with announcement of a goal of zero road deaths ‘over the coming decade’. It’s hard to see this being achieved unless accompanied by a zero cars and trucks goal, something that doesn’t seem too far fetched as a Genter ambition.


No loss of life acceptable

No loss of life is acceptable, is the message behind the development of the Government’s new road safety strategy, says Associate Transport Minister Julie Anne Genter.

The development of the new strategy was announced today at the Local Government Road Safety Summit in Wellington.

“As part of the development of a new road safety strategy the Government will investigate setting a target of zero road deaths,” says Associate Transport Minister Julie Anne Genter.

“I accept that a target of zero death would be audacious, but ambitious targets are need to focus the resources of both central and local government to save lives on our roads.

“No other industry accepts hundreds of people dying each year as normal. No person I know thinks losing a loved one in a crash is an acceptable price to pay for living in a modern society.

“Ambitious zero road death strategies have been successful overseas. Countries like Canada, Sweden, and Norway all aim for zero road deaths and have considerably lower fatality rates than New Zealand.

“The development of a new road safety strategy will take until September 2019 and be ready for implementation in 2020. It will outline the steps New Zealand will take to meaningfully reduce deaths and serious injuries over the coming decade.

“While the strategy is being completed we intend to push forward with actions where there is strong evidence of effectiveness.

“The Government has proposed a significant boost in funding to improve local and regional roads right around the country. This will have a particular focus on proven safety treatments, like median and side barriers.

“We’re also considering a significant funding boost to deliver safe walking and cycling infrastructure in our towns and cities.

“Over the next year the Government will consider a number of options for reducing harm on the road, including improving the safety of vehicles entering New Zealand, reducing speeds around schools, and will implement mandatory alcohol interlock device systems for repeat drunk drivers,” Ms Genter said.


A politician stating ‘no loss of life is acceptable’ is putting a huge expectation on results from radical policies – to reduce the road toll to anywhere near zero would require very radical changes to road use.

Genter seems stuck in a bubble of Green idealism.  This won’t help build confidence in the ability of Greens to be practical co-governors.

What next – a zero deaths from heart attacks and cancer goal? A zero deaths goal?

Dominion Post editorial: Genter’s road toll target a fantasy

Julie Anne Genter appears to have both nailed. It is laudable that the Associate Transport Minister cares deeply about the people she represents and is passionate about making our roads safer. We too share her view that the road toll must come down.

But it is condescending and patronising that she would promote a nonsensical target of zero road deaths by 2020. That’s little more than 18 months away, by the way.

That’s wrong.  Genter said “development of a new road safety strategy will take until September 2019 and be ready for implementation in 2020″ which will ” outline the steps New Zealand will take to meaningfully reduce deaths and serious injuries over the coming decade”.

Going by that Genter’s headline – no loss of life is acceptable – is misleading, she is just talking about “meaningfully reduce deaths and injuries”.

Conventional wisdom is that one has the best opportunity to reach targets and achieve goals, even “audacious” ones, when they are meaningful and realistic.

Anything else can undermine the effort and become self-defeating.

Ministers should promote realistic targets or they will be hammered.

Back in New Zealand, what’s possibly of more concern is that Genter appears to be doubling down after her suggestion of lowering the speed limit to 70km/h for most New Zealand roads sparked outrage and was effectively run down by the prime minister.

“Clear, truly ambitious targets drive policy and help deliver meaningful change,” says Genter.

One wonders what kind of policy avenues one might drive down in pursuit of a zero-deaths target.

Especially if Genter remains in power and the road toll doesn’t drop quickly and dramatically.

The Associate Minister and her fellow Greens need to get used to one very salient fact. Yes, we need cycling, rail and other public transport options as part of the mix, but cars are not going anywhere. They are more likely to be powered by electricity in the future than the much-maligned fossil fuels, but they will remain the main transport option for the great majority of Kiwis for many decades to come. Especially those beyond the bigger centres.

Equally condescending is that Genter wants local government to “be brave enough to take the action that we know is going to save lives, and to bring the community with us”.

That underplays the crucial role of central government in pushing the road toll either up or down.

Guard rails and rumble strips make sense; taking money that might be spent on improving the quality of our roads and highways, used by millions of people and a known factor in road accidents, does not.

Genter is neither a child nor a beauty pageant contestant. She is a Minister of the Crown, which means she should be delivering facts, not fantasy.

Genter needs to wake up to the reality that being in Government requires sensible and achievable goals. The Green training ground seems to have prepared their MPs with a belief that they can perform miracles – like fixing climate problems, eliminating poverty, giving everyone perfect and permanent housing, ensuring everyone has the same amount of money, and no one gets hurt on roads.

An unrealistic and unattainable goal like zero road deaths won’t fool most people, and eventually even dedicated and unquestioning Green supports may start to have doubts about their religion, but that is unlikely to change quickly.

45 Comments

  1. Ray

     /  April 11, 2018

    A man with a red flag walking in front of every car should do it.
    Of course deaths due to high blood pressure and heart attacks would sky rocket but most of them would be old white men so win,win!

  2. Gezza

     /  April 11, 2018

    Christ. Think of something that might entice her back to California where this sort of fantasy would be considered normal amongst some subset of radical dreamers.

    • Gezza

       /  April 11, 2018

      I know, why not get that twerp Ghahrahman to draft a bill putting it into law with a sentence of 2 years imprisonment for any PM that doesn’t achieve the goal?

      • Kitty Catkin

         /  April 11, 2018

        She doesn’t seem to have a very high opinion of NZ, so I do wonder why she stays.

        • Gezza

           /  April 11, 2018

          How many idiots would vote her in to government in California?
          And now how many idiots would vote her in here?
          Answer why she stays seems pretty obvious.

          • Kitty Catkin

             /  April 11, 2018

            Big fish, small pond ? A cliche but a good one.

  3. I vote for zero credibility.
    Is the silly woman going to quit parliamemt if there are road accidents and fatalities to prove she’s sincere ?

    • Kitty Catkin

       /  April 11, 2018

      I vote for zero MPs called Genter.

  4. duperez

     /  April 11, 2018

    Genter shows she is unfit for office all right.

    She says, no loss of life is acceptable, “the Government will investigate setting a target of zero road deaths,” and “I accept that a target of zero death would be audacious, but ambitious targets are need to focus the resources of both central and local government to save lives on our roads.”

    She should have realised that saying such things would cause a whole lot of silly old men to go spare. In that sense she clearly is a danger to public health.

    Another shortcoming could be not knowing the word ‘aspirational.’ I remember clearly one Prime Minister using that word a lot. Even silly old men accepted that as suggesting a hope to go with a goal but it carried the advantage of being part of a back up excuse when the goal wasn’t fully attained.

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  April 11, 2018

      Aspirations are fine if you have a feasible plan to get there. This know-nothing idiot doesn’t.

      • duperez

         /  April 11, 2018

        So what’s no nothing idiotic about having aspirations and then formulating a plan to get there? Or do you think every single detail should be thrashed and sorted out before any utterances are made to0 anyone.

        Then the criticism will be that the no nothing idiotic person is arrogant enough to think they know it all, have it all coming from them without broaching the subject to get input from those who know a lot and have different perspectives?

        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  April 11, 2018

          There is a subtle difference between having every single detail thrashed out and having no idea at all beyond setting up a study group. Ten minutes with Google would have told her that the major contributor to the difference in crash rates here and in the countries she cites is the poor safety quality of our roads. Fix that or nothing will change. But she can’t, because they are going to spend all their money on making our roads worse cluttered with cycleways and tramlines and stopping motorway projects which create by far the safest roads.

    • Gezza

       /  April 11, 2018

      It’s quite a strange planet, the one you come from, where the politicians say stupid things but the locals think that’s normal.

      • duperez

         /  April 11, 2018

        It’s a weird planet all right. Almost as weird as the one where people think deaths on the road are to be accepted, that central and local government shouldn’t focus resources on saving lives on our roads. and the government shouldn’t investigate having as few deaths as possible on the roads.

        As hard as it is to believe there are some who think that it’s past stupid when someone talking about getting rid of road deaths is called stupid.

        • Gezza

           /  April 11, 2018

          Yes it would be. It would be a stupid alien race inhabiting a world where they all thought that. What planet would that be? It’s obviously not this one, because nobody here has said that – but you.

          • Kitty Catkin

             /  April 11, 2018

            Knowall, you mean, Alan.

            How is she going to prevent people having heart attacks at the wheel ? Or having trees come down on or in front of cars ? A man I knew had something jam in his car and sailed across a motorway.

            People have burst tyres; I did on my motorbike and was lucky that it happened where it did, as it made me lose control completely. How will things like that be prevented ? If I’d been going 100 kph….

            We have all, at some time, done something stupid on the road, and it’s sheer luck that more of us haven’t died as a result.

            In the days of horses and carts, the injury and fatality rate was very high. It’s dreaming to say that there will be zero fatalities with vehicles.

            • 2Tru

               /  April 11, 2018

              If there is to be less money to be spent on road safety projects for the benefit of many drivers (because of spending on cycleways for a few cyclists), the obvious way to reduce road deaths is to change what is termed a road death. For example if a car leaves the road and hits a tree it’s not on the road so therefore not included. Or maybe an accident caused by say a bee flying into the car is not included in the statistics. I’m sure NZTA could think of many ways of reducing the road toll using this methodology. (sarc).

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  April 11, 2018

              Someone here asked innocently (?) how the cycle tracks etc would be funded if everyone took to walking, cycling and using public transport. Oh, why doesn’t someone ask that in Parliament ? 😀

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  April 11, 2018

              Of course, the people who die in hospital after crashes won’t count as road deaths, either. Or those whose cars are hit by trains.

          • duperez

             /  April 11, 2018

            Let’s get it straight, Genter wants no road deaths. Read down the page and see the insults about her that that has drawn.

            The choice seems to be between aspirations and not fully developed ideas to improve our lot, or juvenile sniping from the sidelines because of who is voicing the aspirations.

            • Gezza

               /  April 11, 2018

              I agree & when you stop the juvenile sniping maybe others will. It’s an unachievable goal and thus a stupid idea which a more intelligent thinking person would revise into the stated intent of working to bring down the road toll (which doesn’t involve putting people back on horses and carts) towards without being fucking ridiculous. So don’t come the raw kumara with me.

            • Gezza

               /  April 11, 2018

              line 6 – ignore ‘towards’. It shouldn’t be there.

    • PartisanZ

       /  April 11, 2018

      Zero predators … another unrealistic Zero Target instituted by National …

      Zero workplace fatalities … Zero tobacco use … Zero cannabis use … Zero Carbon Emissions … People talk about Zero Targets all the time.

      A Zero Road Toll is definitely worth considering and aspiring to …

      We might start by not putting people in charge of lethal weapons quite so easily …

      And yes Alan, poor quality roads, which require better quality drivers … and sure, retrofit the latest post-and-cable median barriers to our existing highways and add passing lanes wherever possible … [a la Brynderwyns] … and save $billions on RONS … Maybe use some of it on driver education?

  5. david in aus

     /  April 11, 2018

    You only need to fool some of the people under MMP. There is a constituency for pie-in-the-sky thinking as well as sandal wearers.

    • PartisanZ

       /  April 11, 2018

      National certainly fooled “some of the people” …

  6. Zedd

     /  April 11, 2018

    Julie Anne brings a FRESH perspective to the TIRED old kiwi attitude; build more roads for all the 4x4s that crowd/clog them !

    btw; not everyone thinks that more cars & more roads IS the solution to our transport issues.. MORE Trains would be a bloody good start.. sez Ai

    • David

       /  April 11, 2018

      Trains, seriously. How do you get to the station, how do you get to work after being dropped off at the station, Auckland barely has the population to sustain a tiny train system.
      I need big wide empty roads for my Range Rover and I pay a ridiculous amount of taxes each year and dont expect to share a train carriage with poor people.

      • Zedd

         /  April 11, 2018

        Hey David

        I lived in Sydney for 20 years; I took the train to work M-F.. how do you get to the station, same way you get anywhere; feet are a good idea OR if you cant manage that a bicycle or even a car if you must !

        typical narrow-minded reply.. I wouldnt want to step out of my comfort zone, now would you OR even walk on the footpath, which is why the councils sustain them.. unless you’ve forgotten ? FFS

        • 5 million nearly in Sydney and even their trains aren’t far ranging

        • David

           /  April 11, 2018

          “I lived in Sydney for 20 years; I took the train to work M-F.. how do you get to the station, same way you get anywhere; feet are a good idea ”

          You do realise this is just as narrow minded as the other posts don’t you? Exactly how much of the NZ population to be within walking distance of a train station for both home and work?

          • Zedd

             /  April 11, 2018

            hey David.. im talking about relieving congestion in the CITIES; In Sydney most people were within a couple of Kms of railway stations.. I could get from Penrith to Central in about 45mins, to Drive it could take well over an hour !

            Also; moving freight & intercity passengers between main centres.
            There is a huge railway station in Dunedin, but NO trains to ChCh or further north or down south.. only the Taieri Gorge tourists.. what a f@cking waste !

            Having travelled overseas UK, Europe, Australia, I know NZ has amongst the worst standard of public transport.. WAKE UP & smell, less polluted air folks

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  April 11, 2018

              The minor matter of insufficient patronage doesn’t concern you?

            • Zedd

               /  April 11, 2018

              Perhaps when people REALISE they can travel faster, without the stress of sitting in congested traffic.. they may actually see it the better option; BUT you have to provide these options.. not just build more roads & expect status quo to keep everyone happy.
              Last time I was up in Akld (last year), there were roads where walkers & cyclists were moving faster than the cars !

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  April 11, 2018

              It’s completely pointless comparing rail options in dense big populations with those in our sparse small ones. Unless of course you plan to drastically increase immigration.

    • alloytoo

       /  April 11, 2018

      @”MORE Trains would be a bloody good start.. sez Ai”

      Assuming of course you don’t have a train strike….

      None the less let me go on record as saying I love the train, it is by far my favourite form of public transport.

      The problem is not the strikes, but rather that fact that Auckland transport doesn’t really understand the notion of “Park and Ride” (this applies to buses as well).

      The part they fail on is “Park”, in order to park you need parking, preferably adjacent or even above the “Ride” facilities.

      Imagine how many more people would use the train if they could actually get to it.

      • Kitty Catkin

         /  April 11, 2018

        I love trains, too, Planes on wheels !

        BUT one has to get TO the train and FROM it to one’s destination.

        In Hamilton there is a central, underground railway station near the bus terminus,

        There is another one in a suburb,

        Guess which one was used for the Hamilton/ Auckland train (and probably would be again ) ?

        The one that everyone could get to with a single bus trip ?

        The one that most people could only get to with public transport by taking two bus rides that meant that any time saved by the train was more than lost by the time spent travelling to it ?

        I won’t bother to give a prize for the right answer, as everyone will know it.

      • David

         /  April 11, 2018

        “The problem is not the strikes, but rather that fact that Auckland transport doesn’t really understand the notion of “Park and Ride” (this applies to buses as well).”

        They understand it perfectly well. They very simply hate it, because cars and carparks are bad.

  7. Pete. A succinct appraisal of the half baked insanity that activists and ideologues bring to government.

    “Genter needs to wake up to the reality that being in Government requires sensible and achievable goals. The Green training ground seems to have prepared their MPs with a belief that they can perform miracles – like fixing climate problems, eliminating poverty, giving everyone perfect and permanent housing, ensuring everyone has the same amount of money, and no one gets hurt on roads.

    An unrealistic and unattainable goal like zero road deaths won’t fool most people, and eventually even dedicated and unquestioning Green supports may start to have doubts about their religion, but that is unlikely to change quickly.”

    I’d say at least 94% would agree with you.

    • Kitty Catkin

       /  April 11, 2018

      We’d all love to have zero deaths on the road, but it hasn’t happened since the first vehicles were invented and won’t now. It can’t. Not with human beings driving them – and not with driverless cars, either.

      • Gezza

         /  April 11, 2018

        I’m absolutely all for it as long as its legislated for, comes into force this year as a statutory minimum requirement, and there’s a mandatory sentence of 2 years imprisonment for the police. transport and prime ministers in power who haven’t achieved it at the end of each year. Otherwise piss off.

        • Kitty Catkin

           /  April 11, 2018

          Um….only two years ?

          • Gezza

             /  April 11, 2018

            Time off for good behaviour. No cameras or cellphones. Dads mums & babies can visit.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  April 11, 2018

              Zero privileges for silly MPs who suggested it in the first place.

  8. Alan Wilkinson

     /  April 11, 2018

    We await with bated breath her plan to stop drunk youth screaming around a bend in the middle of the night and killing themselves and their passengers.

  9. David

     /  April 11, 2018

    Julie Anne Genter is an ‘expert’ on parking policy. Her expert opinion; there should not be any parking. Nice little business she had going there…