Old rust-buckets on New Zealand roads have been pinpointed as a problem for improving road safety, and the Government may consider enforcing new safety requirements for cars.

In a briefing to new Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee, the Ministry of Transport said the uptake of new safety technologies would be slowed by the relatively old age of the country's cars.

At an average age of 12.7 years, New Zealand had one of the oldest fleets of cars in the developed world, and that age was expected to increase by up to 13.1 by 2020, the briefing said.

"The Government has choices about the extent to which it mandates new safety features in cars, and the timing of such mandates.

Advertisement

"It will be important to consider the benefits of further regulation to mandate advanced crash avoidance features against the costs of such measures, including on the costs and availability of cars."

The Government might choose to improve the information provided to the public about the advantages of active safety features, the ministry said.

Between 1997 and 2005, improvements to cars reduced rural road deaths by 15.7 per cent and urban road deaths by about 20 per cent.

The ministry also noted several other areas where road safety might be improved.

With regard to speeding, the ministry said the Government could consider further measures to discourage people travelling over the limit, including introducing demerit points for speed camera-detected offences.

There might also be room for roading improvements, such as installing more median barriers on high-risk, high-volume rural roads.

With regard to the impact of alcohol in road crashes, the briefing said it would be another year or two before the ministry could assess changes made from 2010, including the zero drink drive limit for drivers aged younger than 20 years, and for recidivist drink drivers.

The ministry said international research backed reducing the drink drive limit below 0.08 blood alcohol content, and results from Government-commissioned research into how such a change would affect New Zealand was due in August next year.

Advertisement