The Answer?

What is the answer? I suppose the first thing that needs to be asked is – what is the question?

However, before attempting to ask or answer the question, the good news is that Te Ara Tutuki Pai The Right Track has now been recognised in an international research study conducted by Gerald Waters that is currently being peer reviewed by Monash University in Melbourne, as setting the bench mark for international best practice.Details will be published as soon as the peer review has been completed, hopefully by February 2017.

New Zealanders continue to kill and maim themselves and others on New Zealand roads at an alarming rate.  The reasons include speed, alcohol, drugs, inattention, inexperience, failure to wear seat belts, not driving to the conditions, failure to stop for enforcement officers and genuine accidents that could not have been prevented. The root cause though is ourselves, not the road conditions or the state of the vehicle or sun strike or seasonal variations but the driver. There may well be a number of contributing factors but at the end of the day the fault lies with us and as a society we have done little to counter the continual tide of tragedy that consumes us on a daily basis. Fines, crushing cars, raising the licence age, impounding vehicles, lowering the speed limit, improving the required level of driving competency through a variety of measures, trying scare tactics on television, appealing to the social conscience, having road side graphics and keeping the tragedies in the media all have some impact but the fact of the matter is that the tragedies continue and despite improved safety measures, fantastic emergency services, rescue helicopters and advances in trauma and medical care we are still killing ourselves at a rate of nearly one person per day.

The questions then are who is responsible, why are they ‘driving’ us into this situation and what can be done to try and stop them. The answers to the first question are well documented. Previously we published on this website a report released by the previous Transport Minister Steven Joyce highlighting the “High Risk” drivers. Reports from Land Transport New Zealand during the past decade clearly indicate the on going problem areas- drivers aged between 15 and 24, male, with high risk behaviours including alcohol and speed and an alarming rate of accidents involving drivers in the first six months of going ‘solo’. Reports also indicate the prevalence of older male recidivist offender drivers involved in motor vehicle crashes; this cohort also features strongly in the apprehended drink driver statistics. Although the problem is focused on the high risk 15-24 year older male group is now recording alarmingly high statistics. It is fascinating to realise that this particular cohort are the ones that are teaching their sons and daughters how to drive!!!

The answer to the “Why” question remains a mystery as the responses from offenders and those involved in motor vehicle offending and collisions are often not researched and certainly are not analysed to a degree that would create an answer. The causative factors are numerous and the reasons given, unfortunately, are often clouded by the necessity for defense triggered by conscience and an enforcement system that can often be hamstrung by astute defense and manipulative strategy.

The question of “What can be done?” is the subject of world wide debate and research and is purportedly answered by the implementation of a vast array of measures ranging from the punitive to the experimental. Billions of dollars are spent on advertising via the media, billboards, roadside messages and television which pales into insignificance in comparison to the multi dimensional electronic industry that encourages fast driving, action heroes and games that depict anti social, abhorrent driving behaviours that young people in particular are exposed to repeatedly through video, television, internet “games”and movies. Punitive measures, scare tactics, mono dimensional learning programmes, programmes that reduce the time required for getting licences through attendance at seminars and sessions have done little to improve the situation world wide.

The answer is education. The answer is in creating an environment that is conducive to change. The answer is building a response and awareness in the individual that encourages them to want to make better informed decisions and choices – this is what THE RIGHT TRACK does.