Duncan Garner: Fix the roads now

Opinion 29/04/2019

I think it's time to face the facts - that more and more New Zealanders will die on our roads unless something drastic and hugely expensive happens, and fast. 

Numbers don't lie. 

In 2013, 250 people died on our roads. Last year it was 380.

The number of fatalities is increasing along with our population. All the safety messages have fallen on deaf ears.

We speed, we still don't wear seatbelts, and we are distracted by cell phones. Here's the crucial one - we blast along at 100 kilometres an hour plus on narrow roads.

Goat tracks, circa 1968, and we're in hunks of metal that are faster than ever and the only barrier between us and the car coming at us is a lick of white paint. 

Our roads are dangerous before the dangerous drivers hits them.

The Government is going to spend $1.4 billion doing up 900 kilometres of our most dangerous roads - let's not take the next three or four years to do this. Government needs to fast track their plans, and get median barriers into the 20 worst black spots ASAP.

I mean before the end of the year - that will save lives.

In fact, officials say if we put in the median barriers, 160 fewer people will die on our roads every year - 160 people, that's worth it.

Another option, take distraction more seriously.

I noticed over the last couple of weeks dozens and dozens of drivers on State Highway one texting with their heads down as they drove. A second of inattention at 100kmh usually ends in a tragedy. Until we take cell phone use seriously, we will continue to use the phones in cars - it's simply a human reaction to a weak rule.

Who cares about an $80 fine? But what about a $500 fine, and lose the phone, or car, for a month - then we might take notice.

Doing more of the same will only make the road toll go up, doing something more dramatic might see it come down.

Duncan Garner is host of The AM Show.