Greg Murphy calls for action to address road toll

Greg Murphy. Image: Simon Chapman.

Motorsport legend Greg Murphy says the appalling holiday road toll shows New Zealanders need better education before getting behind the wheel.

Eleven people were killed on the roads between Christmas Eve and yesterday morning - four were killed in the same period last year.

Greg Murphy who helps run Street Smart, a driver education course, says it is too easy to get a driving licence.

"I'm really saddened again by the situation and the fact that it's an ongoing issue and we're not making any changes."

"The stock standard comments by those that are in high places every holiday period should be wearing thin on all New Zealanders, it's just the same stuff every year - words are not fixing the problem we need actions."

Murphy says the licensing system is archaic and it is time for an overhaul.

"We need to look after drivers better by training them better, making them more aware and prepared for the things they face every day on the roads.

"We need to start with better theory around the road rules, teach people about the physics of motor vehicles, and teach them about safety."

There is nothing in the current licensing system that teaches motorists why they need tread on tyres, he says.

"The other thing that isn't mentioned is the anti-lock braking system (ABS), I think probably 80 per cent of people don't even know what it is or what it does and it's the first line of defense in driving a motor vehicle."

All cars imported into the country must have ABS, and last year Waka Kotahi New Zealand Transport Agency made it mandatory for all new model motorcycles over 125cc to have the system.

"If you slam on the brakes it doesn't lock the front wheels of your car - so as much as you brake they will still rotate which means you still have control over the vehicle."

As well as more theory training and assessment, he says there should be a much bigger practical component to licence testing.

"You should have to do a course where you do awareness training, learn about emergency training, do hazard identification, and learn about peripheral awareness.

"It's all good spending millions of dollars on updating roads and installing barriers but it's the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff.

"I've tried to talk to ministers and officials about my concerns for years but nothing eventuates or changes.

"The toll that road deaths take on families and communities needs to be considered when decisions are being made."

Sally Murphy/RNZ.

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