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FNDC: Speed Doesn't Rate as Risk Factor Fix dangerous roads? Sorry, not a priority.

Original source - The Bay Chronicle, Friday October 21, 2005, p16:   Link (185KB)

The Far North District Council has published the following ratings of the Major Road Safety Issues in its area:

MAJOR ROAD SAFETY ISSUES

Far North District

Nationally

Alcohol

Speed

Loss of control on curves

Alcohol

Passenger casualties

Failure to give way

Road and environment factors

Restraints

Spectacularly, speeding doesn't even rate in the top four issues, whereas nationally it is claimed to be in top place!

How can this be?  Are Northland roads so bad that speeding is impossible?  Or is speeding being blamed incorrectly, perhaps even deliberately, in other areas to justify enforcement funding?

Furthermore, the Far North District has one of the highest crash rates per head of population in New Zealand.  Also, it has a higher proportion of fatal and serious injury crashes than the national average:

2004 ROAD TRAUMA FOR FAR NORTH DISTRICT

Deaths 19

Fatal crashes 12

Serious Casualties 59

Serious injury crashes 44

Minor Casualties 257

Minor Injury crashes 166

Non-injury crashes 330

Apart from alcohol (and drugs I would expect) the top issues strongly suggest the high cost consequences of bad roads.  The article claims the social cost to the district due to vehicle crashes was independently assessed in 2004 at $93.5 million.  The Far North District Council would like to spend $120m on roading improvements over 10 years but considers itself disadvantaged by the government Transfund funding formula.

(Source: http://farnorth.govt.nz/roading/farreport.pdf or  here (1192KB))

As of 2002 it was allocated $13.8m by Transfund of which it has to contribute $6.2m from rates (20% of total rate take).

According to the FNDC 2005/6 annual plan it will spend $6m on new roading works (of which over $4m is just the Kerikeri town basin rerouting) and $13.8m on maintenance and renewals.

The Kerikeri basin project will likely contribute almost nothing to a reduction in the road toll and is being Government funded for other political motives so effectively only $2m is being spent towards reducing the annual social cost of some $93.5m of casualties on our bad roads.

In comparison, the NZ police will spend $216m on "road safety" in 2005, most of it on rigid enforcement of speed limits.  Assuming allocation approximately on a per fatality basis, some $6m of that will be wasted in the Far North District instead of being spent on road improvements. 

Footnote:

We must note that the figure of $93.5m is incredibly arbitrary, being based on a so-called "Value of Statistical Life" that is about 4x greater of that used in Australia (see eg: http://www.nzier.org.nz/SITE_Default/SITE_Publications/x-files/10856.pdf)  It is not a real cost, it is a supposedly surveyed estimate of how much people would be prepared to spend (of other people's money no doubt) to save a single life.  It is thus mostly a function of political and media manipulation and should be taken with a large lump of salt - as with any bureaucratic estimate - see http://www.transport.govt.nz/downloads/social-cost-update-2004.pdf The value of statistical life (VOSL) was established at $2 million in 1991, following a willingness to pay (WTP) survey carried out during 1989/1990. It is indexed to average hourly earnings (ordinary time) to express the value in current prices. The updated VOSL is $2.83 million, at June 2004 prices.