Eliminating deaths on the road is being targeted by a grassroots campaign launched by the NZ Transport Agency in partnership with the Southern Road Safety Influencing Group.
The “Any Number Is Too Many” campaign was aimed at encouraging conversations in individual communities, Gore District Council transport manager Peter Standring said.
The campaign was not just about the T-shirts, posters and banners but about coming up with ideas within communities to reduce the number of road fatalities, Mr Standring said.
Any death on the road had a ripple effect throughout a community and it was about acknowledging the impacts of a death on families and communities, he said.
“This is not good enough,” Mr Standring said.
Communities talking about ways of stopping the road carnage was a good start.
“We need to get away from that word ‘toll’ – toll is an acceptable price to pay. Zero is the only acceptable solution – there shouldn’t be a price to pay,” he said.
The best people to relay the reality of attending crashes were the first responders, he said.
“These guys know the impact.”
Southern Road Safety Influencing Group member Russell Hawkes said the group had put its full support behind the campaign.
The group is made up of regional and local authorities in Southland and Otago and government agency and transport sector representatives.
“We’ve seen how Otago and Southland communities are responding to the call to address the increasing number of people being killed on our roads,” Mr Hawkes said.
“We are backing them 100%.
“At the end of September 2017, 24 people have been killed on Otago and Southland roads,” he said.
This was almost the same as the 2016 total.
During the past five years 123 people had died on southern roads, he said.
“We believe all [of the deaths] could have been prevented.”
“We are committed to working with emergency responders and with communities to solve our growing road safety issue,” Mr Hawkes said.
The group recognised road fatalities affected many people as the trauma rippled through communities, he said.
“It’s not only those who know a victim personally – all of us are impacted by a road death. Any number of road deaths is too many.”
The group was keen to find a solution for southern communities.
The group realised if it made the changes needed, the whole community would have to work together.
“We recognise communities know their roads better than anyone else and often know what needs to be done to improve their safety.”
Residents knew the intersections and stretches of road where crashes happened too often, he said.
“They have experienced the blind-spots and seen the near-misses – they see the problems, they know the risk.”
manager Otago-Southland Pauline Buchanan said communities felt the pain of a road death for a long time.
A death could divide communities, Mrs Buchanan said.