This page answers some common questions about road safety and the strategy.

You can also read about a few common myths and misconceptions in this document [PDF, 456 KB]

Why is road safety a priority?

  • In 2018, 377 people were killed on our roads, and thousands more were seriously injured.
  • On average one person is killed every day and another is injured every hour. The ripple effects of these hundreds of deaths and thousands of injuries are traumatic for whānau, friends, communities and our nation.
  • The total social cost of motor vehicle injury crashes in 2017 is estimated to be $4.8 billion.

Why are deaths on New Zealand roads increasing?

  • Some of the increase has been driven by increase in vehicles on the roads and motorcycle crashes, but about 1/3 of the increase is difficult to explain.
  • We know speed, impairment, distraction and not wearing seatbelts remain major factors in road deaths and injuries.
  • But we also need to look at the broader road system and build a road network that acknowledges that humans make mistakes and that we’re physically vulnerable.

Why don’t you just train better drivers or spend more money on promotion?

  • Improving driver skill and behaviour is an important part of reducing the number of deaths and serious injuries on our roads. That is why we’ve made it a priority in the first three years of this strategy to increase access to driver training and licensing.
  • However, it’s important to remember that even really well-trained drivers can make a mistake. It’s essential that we also work on a range of system changes – including better road infrastructure, safer vehicles and effective enforcement – to ensure we can meaningfully reduce road trauma.

What has been involved in creating the strategy?

  • Throughout the development of the strategy, the Ministry of Transport and partners had conversations across the sector and across the country to gather a diverse range of views and perspectives to inform our work; as well as reviewing research, overseas best practice, and working to build a better understanding of New Zealand’s unique challenges.
  • We formed five reference groups, made up of over 100 representatives from across the sector, to provide their knowledge and experiences on the topics of: speed, vehicles, vehicles as a workplace, road user behaviour, and infrastructure.
  • We have also held workshops and meetings across the country to build a better understanding of the challenges and opportunities faced in different regions. We have been grateful to everyone who has contributed to these discussions so far.
  • Public consultation ran for a period of four weeks from 17 July to 14 August 2019. Over 1000 submissions were received. Feedback during this consultation was reflected in the final strategy and a first action plan, released in late 2019.

What were the key themes of consultation?

  • We received over 1,000 submissions during the strategy consultation and there was resounding support for the more ambitious approach to reducing the trauma on our roads and helping all road users to feel safe when they travel.
  • The majority of submissions were broadly supportive of the proposed vision, all the seven principles, and all five focus areas. There was broad support for having a target, although about one in three submitters wanted the target to be more ambitious.
  • Although a wide range of views were expressed through the submissions, some key themes emerged, including
    • a strong concern about driver behaviour and a desire to focus more on driver education, licensing and training
    • strong feedback that the strategy make a clearer link between mode shift (i.e. people switching from cars to other transport means) and its impact on road safety
    • a call for more attention to be paid to the mobility needs of disabled people and the specific vulnerabilities of particular groups, including children, pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists, and economically disadvantaged communities
    • The importance of ensuring there is sufficient funding and resources, as well as effective coordination and leadership, to achieve the intent of the vision and the proposed target
    • a desire for the strategy to be more explicit about the impact (both positive and negative) that new and emerging technologies may have on road safety outcomes over the next decade.
  • A Summary of Submissions report has been published. Part 6 of this report sets out the key changes incorporated into the final strategy and action plan since consultation occurred.


What is Vision Zero?

  • Road to Zero is based on Vision Zero, a world-leading approach that refers to a societal commitment to work towards zero harm on the road. First launched in Sweden in 1997, it has been adopted by places like Norway, New York and London.
  • Vision Zero is framed as ‘Towards Zero’ in some jurisdictions, such as Victoria and New South Wales in Australia, as well as Canada and the European Union.
  • A number of New Zealand cities and regions (including Auckland, Waikato, Otago and Southland) have adopted Vision Zero approaches.

Is this vision of no deaths and serious injuries on our roads actually achievable?

  • Our vision is ‘a New Zealand where no one is killed or seriously injured in road crashes’. It is based on Vision Zero – a global movement that has seen significant decreases in road trauma in Sweden, New York and parts of Australia.
  • Adopting this vision means no longer viewing the deaths on our roads as a “toll” that we’re prepared to pay for mobility. Systems cannot be designed to prevent every crash. But they can – and should – keep people alive when crashes happen.
  • In the same way that loss of life is not considered to be an inevitable and acceptable part of the aviation and maritime sectors, Vision Zero applies that same expectation to the road system.
  • We recognise that zero deaths and serious injuries on our roads may not be achievable in the next 10 to 20 years – change will not happen overnight. But adopting this vision means taking meaningful and sustained steps to reducing road trauma.
  • As a step towards achieving the vision, the Government has set an interim target of a 40 percent reduction in deaths and serious injuries by 2030.

What is the difference between Vision Zero and Safe System?

  • The Safer Journeys strategy was developed using the ‘safe system approach’. This approach accepts that people make mistakes and crashes will happen, and that we need to build a safe road system to protect people from death or serious injury when they do crash. It stresses that those designing road systems and those using them must share the responsibility for creating a system whereby accidents do not result in death or serious injury.
  • Vision Zero is a philosophy and a commitment. It is usually grounded in a safe system approach.


How did you come up with a target of 40 percent?

  • The target has been informed by modelling of a substantial programme of road safety improvements over the next 10 years.
  • The modelling is based on robust international evidence on the effectiveness of key interventions. A number of actions in the action plan have also informed the modelling.
  • It shows that the key gains will be achieved by sustained investment in infrastructure improvements and effective enforcement, alongside safer speeds, safer vehicles, and effective deterrence of high risk behaviours.
  • The model also allows some flexibility for potential mode shift resulting from Government investment in public transport and rail infrastructure, and also tries to anticipate potential technologies that might develop over the next 10 years.
  • Other Vision Zero jurisdictions have also typically aimed for reductions of between 40 percent and 60 percent in every 10-year period.

How do you plan on achieving this target?

  • Modelling suggests that just over half the target could be achieved through a combination of infrastructure improvements (such as median barriers and intersection treatments), targeted speed limit changes in urban areas and on the highest risk parts of the network, and increased levels of enforcement (both by safety cameras and by police officers).
  • These changes will require substantial investment in road safety over the next decade and will inform the development of the next Government Policy Statement on land transport.
  • Up to a further quarter could be achieved by lifting the safety performance of the vehicle fleet and mandating ABS for motorcycles.
  • The remaining quarter would need to be achieved by a combination of other interventions, such as improvements to driver licensing and increases to penalties for safety offences, as well as broader factors, such increased uptake of public transport and changes in vehicle technology.

How much is this going to cost and what will be delivered? 

  • The modelling says that to achieve the target, the Government will need to increase current spend by 25 percent, an increase of $200 million to $1 billion per annum.
  • We expect it to deliver:
  • infrastructure improvements on roads with the highest concentration of deaths and serious injuries including:
    • 1,000km of additional median barriers
    • more than 1,700km of other safety treatments including side barriers and rumble strips
    • more than 1,500 intersection improvements such as roundabouts and platform treatments
  • maintaining current levels of road policing, plus breathalysers, vehicles and alcohol interlocks
  • new roadside drug testing equipment
  • measures to support a new speed regime package, Tackling Unsafe Speeds, including more safety cameras, engineering up roads to support existing speed limits and to facilitate speed changes around schools, and speed signage.
  • Delivering increased infrastructure improvements, and other road engineering changes (e.g. to support existing speed limits and facilitate speed changes around schools) will take up about $100 million of the additional expenditure.
  • The rest of the additional spending ($100 million) will be used to pay for new enforcement technologies for Police, including drug testing equipment.


The action plan includes 15 actions. When do you expect those to happen?

  • Those actions are planned to begin over the next three years. This is a 3-year action plan, at which time we’ll aim to have developed and launched another one that continues to build on the Road to Zero strategic approach.