Let’s not pay such a grim toll


What does a toll mean to you?

The dictionary definition is: ‘‘a small amount of money that you have to pay to use a road, cross a bridge, etc’’.

For years, we have referred to the deaths on our roads as the road toll. As if it is acceptable and we should expect to pay.

Well, I don’t accept it as something we need to pay. Do you feel you or your family should pay a toll such as this?

The road trauma cost to the New Zealand economy is about $4 billion per year.

It isn’t just those who die in a crash. Many more are left with life changing-injuries and need ongoing care.

One way of reducing this trauma isreducing speed limits. I often get challenged about it: ‘‘Fix the roads and no need to reduce the speed limit,’’ people say. My immediate reply has been, ‘‘We need to fix both’’.

I see change coming. I see lower speed limits being introduced across the country. You will start to hear the phrase ‘‘safe and appropriate’’. What does this mean?

Crashes will still happen, but a lower speed limit and better safety-rated cars will dramatically reduce the chances of being killed or seriously injured.

When the conversation about reducing speed limits is started, it often turns to money and the loss of productivity.

But do you stop to think about the cost of human life?

The reason I mentioned $4 billion is that life does get given a monetary value and it is a very high value.

More reasons can be given — fewer emissions, less stress for drivers, less wear and tear on vehicle — but I think the human reason is good enough.

As motorists, we do not own the roads. Yes, we pay the taxes through fuel and regos. We pay those because we want the convenience of driving. It does not mean we own the roads and can do what we want on them.

Just remember, we start every journey as a pedestrian and should be able todo so safely.

The latest Waka Kotahi advertising has a phrase, ‘‘It takes everyone to get to no-one’’. It may sound all sentimental, but I don’t want to read about another serious or fatal crash.

I don’t want a police officer to have to knock on anyone’s door to say mum or dad is never coming home (done that, it’s horrible). I don’t want anyone to have to give up their job or way of life to look after a child seriously hurt in a crash.

What don’t you want? What toll are you prepared to pay?

Drive safer, Waitaki.

  • Jason Evered is Waitaki District Council road safety coordinator