The safety of our regional roads has been an ongoing discussion between the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA), its Minister and provincial councils for some time now, said Tasman Mayor Richard Kempthorne, and it all appears to have been for nothing.

“We were sold time and time again on the idea that regional road safety was a priority for the Government and its agency NZTA. A collaborative approach was central to the achievement of what we call safe; the latest list of initiatives from NZTA is far from that.”

Tasman District Council recently took part in a joint NZTA/Council exercise to lower the speed limit on one of our most dangerous roads. This project was achieved relatively easily because of the work the Council and community had already done cutting the process in half. However, that was only half the solution.

“Intersection and other improvements on SH60 between Richmond and Mapua were identified as essential and coming. They did not make an appearance on the latest list of works and are not in the future planning. This is not collaboration or serving road safety in the regions.

“We may not have as many roads as the North Island but the ones we have are essential. All we are asking is the appropriate investment to make them safe.

“Another area the Government could assist in is providing Police with the regulatory ability to undertake random drug testing. Just as they can do with alcohol, Police should be able to test and remove drivers under the influence of drugs before they cause an accident, not just cite the cause of the accident after the event.

“Of the five fatalities we had in 2017 and 2018 on SH60, over half were drug related, predominantly P. Could they have been stopped? We will never know, but in providing the tools we may just give someone a better chance of getting home.”