New drink-drive limits proposed

MICHAEL FORBES
Last updated 15:25 27/03/2013

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A new drink-drive limit for people aged 20 to 24 and speed limits that better reflect different types of roads are among measures the Government will progress over the next two years.

Associate Transport Minister Michael Woodhouse made the announcement in Wellington today as he launched the Government's Safer Journeys Action Plan for 2013 to 2015.

New blood-alcohol limits are to be looked at for commercial drivers and those deemed ''high risk'' as well as people aged between 20 and 24. Drivers under 20 are already subject to zero-tolerance.

The nation's 100 most dangerous intersections will also be identified along with solutions for at least 30 of them by September 2014. Improvements are to be made to the top 20 by June 2015.

The Government also wants to find ways of getting older, less-safe vehicles off the streets. The average age of the country's vehicle fleet is 13 years, which is high by international standards.

The effectiveness of alcohol interlocks, which require users to pass a breath test in order to start their car, will also be reviewed with recommendations for their future use.

Woodhouse said the new Safer Journeys plan was targeting the most complex and multi-dimensional road safety problems.

"Our roads are not as safe as they could be and we need to keep working on strengthening all aspects - vehicles, speed, roads and roadsides, and road use.''

Over the past four years, the number of people killed or injured in crashes declined by about 20 per cent. But more needed to be done, Woodhouse said.

"Sharing responsibility with stakeholders, partners and the public gives us the greatest chance of making our roads safer for everyone... every New Zealander needs to share responsibility for making our roads safe. The government can't do this alone.''

The Safer Journeys Action Plan is the second round of initiatives rolled out as part of the Government's Safer Journeys Strategy for 2010 to 2020, which aims to eliminate death and serious injury from our roads.

The 2011-12 action plan contained 108 individual actions. About 90 per cent of them are complete or underway.

The previous plan saw the driving age raised to 16, two of the give way rules changed, a tougher restricted drivers licence test introduced and the legal drink drive limit for youths and repeat offenders lowered to zero.

The latest action plan contains a smaller number of transformational actions with ''a higher degree of ambition,'' according to the Government.There were 920 deaths and serious injuries from head-on and run-off roads crashes in this country in the year to September.

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In 2011, crashes that involved people driving too fast for the conditions resulted in 83 deaths and 461 injuries - just under a quarter of all deaths and serious injuries - according to the National Road Safety Committee.

- The Dominion Post

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