Originally published on en.wikinews.org at http://en.wikinews.org/wiki/Wikinews_exclusive:_%27speed_not_behind_New_Zealand%27s_road_toll%27.
Accredited Wikinews reporter, Gabriel Pollard (Nzgabriel) has been contacted by Rachael Ford, co-ordinator for New Zealand’s Candor Trust about what they assert is the hidden cause of deaths on New Zealand’s roads.

Candor Trust is an organisation based in New Zealand that helps educates New Zealanders about drug driving harms.

Candor Trust says that the main policy being advertised, speed kills is the “number one road safety threat” on the roads.

In 2000 the number of crashes that caused injuries was 7,447, but last year it climbed back up to 10,738 – a level not seen in New Zealand since 1995. Statistics provided by the Ministry of Transport during the same period show that the amount of hospitalisations rose by around a quarter (25%) to 7,427. Candor Trust says that the general level of safety on New Zealand’s roads has gone down the “gurgler”. Candor Trust said: “This unjustified emphasis on speed which is far from the greatest factor in fatalities only serves to distract from bigger issues.”

Candor Trust says that New Zealanders must now know that the “speed kills” message needs to be rethought, as the message did not predict that record numbers of hospitalisations are accompanying the record numbers of speeding tickets issued.

Dr Meffen, first name unknown, has said to transport officials from the Ministry of Transport that other factors are responsible for the drop in the death toll than a drop in average speeds. But ACC (Accident Compensation Corporation) and LTNZ (Land Transport New Zealand) both say that a one percent decrease in the mean speed will cut the death toll by four percent and the injury rate by two percent. But a four percent decrease of the mean speed from 101 kilometres per hour (km/h) to 97 km/h in 2006 coincided with 330 more people being seriously injured in 2006 (provisional figure) – a 15% increase from the 2000 figure of 2,243. Perhaps the obvious causality is apparent but not real.

Candor Trust says that it is incredible that other agencies, including LTNZ, are continuing spreading the message that speed kills, even when an experiment to show what happened when users took party pills and then drove was stopped when no fatalities occurred, just concern over adverse effects.

Candor Trust said: “The survival of road users depends on the goodwill of planners who need to come clean and admit the ‘reduced harm correlates to reduced average speeds’ hypothesis is disproven in the present NZ context.”

Ms Ford said: “It is not OK that the damning Breen report [a review of road safety to 2010 strategy] expressed concerns [that] our road safety policy is not sufficiently evidence based, and yet we carry on doing as we’ve always done.” She said that because of this, the road victim disability services are overloaded, and they are not getting their needs met.

The speed theory is based on Ashtons formula is based on demonstrated association, which is said to need the weakest scientific evidence, does not count for variables such as the vehicle standards.

Dr Patrick Meffen told the LTNZ that it is not true if a crash occurred at 95 km/h and one at 105 km/h, the slower one would be more survivable. He said that the media releases are tricking people and are making them believe in a false sense of security. “An important spin off from the misuse of these statistics has been the concept promoted by media of survivable accidents at or near open road speeds. In reality the chances of surviving around the open speed limit are low and purely random.”

Candor Trust said: “Speed control must stop dominating policy – over limit speed is only present at 18% of fatal crashes. Safety has nothing to do with legality, and putting all our eggs in the speed basket as it’s easily ‘enforceable’ has been a mistake.” Over half of all fatal crashes the speed is under 60km/h, and fatal side-swip crashes occur at speeds usually below 40 km/h.

In 2005 and partly 2006, $2,385,000 was spent on advertising to prevent speeding, the majority of the advertising budget. Speeding teenagers, who are of the most concern, do not make up the bulk of the toll.

Candor Trust said the most important issue that could end up saving lives is the use of 1990 dated imports for the under 25-year-olds on the “State Goat Tracks.”

Candor Trust calls for an immediate review and reconstruction of how the police deals with crashes, with the inclusion of check boxes for inattention and drug intoxication. A police source told Candor Trust that there are often times when crash investigators argue with the police when the police try to tick the speed box, because they are “overly keen”. Candor Trust want a better and more effective road safety policy, especially when it comes to speed.

Also in the latter half of this month, January, 19 fatal crashes occurred and 16 of those were the result of a centreline cross, which usually occur because a driver is fatigued or otherwise impaired and they tug steering wheel; or “run off road events.” Ministry of Transport statistics shows that a head on collision with one of the cars travelling at least 80 km/h will most likely result in a fatality. And research conducted in America also showed that mobile phones are not a great cause of deaths compared to other causes. In the 3 seconds before a crash 80% of drivers are inattentive and local studies implicate fatigue or drug abuse as the main risk factors for that.

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