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It’s certainly been a busy start to the year for the Ministry with big decisions on the Vehicle Licensing Reform project, the first New Zealand Transport Summit, continued air services negotiations and just this week the release of the second Safer Journeys Action Plan 2013 - 2015.

In January decisions on the Vehicle Licensing Reform programme were announced. This included the decision to change the warrant of fitness (WoF) system. Planned changes to be introduced in the first half of 2014 will see annual inspections starting at three years for vehicles first registered anywhere in the world on or after 1 January 2000, and continuing six-monthly inspections for vehicles first registered before 1 January 2000.

Approximately 900,000 cars manufactured after 2000 that are currently on a six-monthly WoF, move permanently to annual inspections.

Our research shows that the package of changes will benefit motorists and businesses by $159 million a year, and by at least $1.8 billion over 30 years in inspection and compliance costs, justice and enforcement costs, and time spent by motorists getting their WoF.

February also saw the Ministry work with its transport sector colleagues from the New Zealand Transport Agency, Maritime New Zealand, the Civil Aviation Authority, KiwiRail, the Transport Accident Investigation Commission and Airways to create the first sector-endorsed New Zealand Transport Summit.

The summit focussed on transport and economic growth and it was a fascinating two days examining the challenges we face to create a transport system which optimises market opportunities for our trade and enterprise.

It reconfirmed to me the need for the sector to think hard about how we can drive efficiency into the transport system, consider the end-to-end supply chain and recognise the opportunities that technology has to lift our productivity. We also need to get more out of our established corridors and seize economies of scale to increase our trading leverage.

Air services negotiations are an important part of growing our economy and since New Zealand’s new International Air Transport Policy was announced in August last year the Ministry has been working on a number of negotiations to improve our global links for travel and trade.

A new open skies air services agreement between New Zealand and Brazil was announced by Prime Minister John Key earlier this month, and we anticipate further agreements with countries in Europe, the Middle East, South East Asia and South America to be in place later this year.

Finally, this week Associate Transport Minister Michael Woodhouse released the second Safer Journeys Action Plan 2013 –15.

The first Action Plan (2010–2013) contained 108 single focussed actions across the four elements of the Safe System – roads and roadsides, vehicles, road users and speed.

This Action Plan builds on the progress already made by focussing on a smaller number of transformational actions with a high degree of ambition.

For example we will be developing programmes to improve high-risk intersections, exit older vehicles from the fleet faster and look into aligning blood alcohol concentration limits (BAC) to driver risk. We will also introduce a speed management programme that will see greater consistency across the country in approaches to speed education and enforcement.

The Action Plan will also facilitate greater cross-agency collaboration as these high-ambition projects will need a high level of commitment from every agency with a role to play in road safety.

Have a safe and happy Easter.



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