Road safety

Transport sector: A case study of sector-level performance

For this case study, we looked at two out of the five outcomes from the Framework. The second is road safety, which is a component of the “healthy and safe people” outcome.

One of the outcomes of the Framework is protecting people from transport-related injuries and harmful pollution and making active travel an attractive option. We focused on how transport agencies report on road safety.

New Zealand has a poor record of road safety compared to similar countries. The transport sector’s key strategy for making progress on road safety is Road to Zero (published in late 2019). The strategy identifies several factors that contribute to New Zealand’s poor safety record, including New Zealand’s natural geography, high speed limits on many roads, insufficient safety infrastructure (such as median barriers), drivers under the influence of alcohol and drugs, and poor vehicle standards.

Road to Zero’s overall aim is to reduce road-related deaths and serious injuries by 40% (from 2018 levels) by 2030.

The five focus areas (“interventions”) of Road to Zero are:

  • Infrastructure and speed (infrastructure improvements and tackling unsafe speeds).
  • Vehicle safety (raising vehicle safety standards).
  • Work-related road safety (strengthening work and commercial-related travel).
  • Road user choices (prioritising road policing, enhancing drug testing and access to licensing and training).
  • System management (strengthening system leadership, support, and co-ordination).

The initial action plan for Road to Zero spans three years, from 1 January 2020, and subsequent action plans will be developed. Road to Zero has indicators that measure specific actions as well as indicators linked to the 40% reduction target.

Road to Zero is a new activity class in the 2021-24 National Land Transport Programme,3 with $2.9 billion to be invested in Road to Zero activities. This includes $1.24 billion for road policing. There is also spending on road safety in other activity classes (such as road improvements that include safety features).

How performance is reported

Reporting on the performance of the Road to Zero Strategy is advanced. Both Road to Zero and the reporting against it present a rich, evidence-based, and integrated view of how resources and levers across the sector (for example, regulatory levers, such as drivers, policing, and safety improvements to infrastructure) will be used for multiple years to achieve the road safety outcome.

The Ministry of Transport, Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency (Waka Kotahi), and the New Zealand Police jointly produce an annual Road to Zero monitoring report. The monitoring report provides comprehensive, accessible, balanced, and relevant reporting on the goal to reduce road user deaths and serious injuries by 40% by 2030. The 2022 monitoring report is not yet published.

Reporting includes monthly and regional breakdowns of the number of deaths and serious injuries and the contributing factors. There is also reporting on progress on the action plan. This reporting describes how the transport sector is using this performance information to take stock of, and review progress on, performance. The Road to Zero’s annual monitoring report has Improving Road Safety Outcomes with Māori as an outcome with its own indicator. The reporting clearly links this outcome to a wider obligation under te Tiriti o Waitangi, and includes detailed information on how the transport sector is tracking, what work will be carried out in phases, and how work will be co-designed with Māori.

The Ministry of Transport also publishes quarterly reporting on its website to support more timely reporting against the strategy. The reporting on the Road to Zero strategy goes beyond the statutory reporting government entities are required to do.

The Ministry of Transport, Waka Kotahi, and the New Zealand Police focus on their individual contributions to Road to Zero in their 2021/22 annual reports. For example, the Ministry of Transport’s 2021/22 annual report focused on its work on Road to Zero’s governance arrangements, while the New Zealand Police focused on its operational role on road policing.

In its 2021/22 annual report, Waka Kotahi describes its contribution and performance to Road to Zero. This reporting provides a balanced view of progress on actions toward achieving outcomes, including descriptions of areas where performance has not met targets.

3: Activities in the Road to Zero activity classes had previously been performed in other activity classes, primarily those relating to local road and state highway improvements.