There'll be a room full of suits and skirts gathering in the capital from around the country today and they'll be there at ratepayers' and taxpayers' expense.

They're calling it the Local Government Road Safety Summit and when it comes to these sorts of meetings, they're nothing new. All freshman Governments hold them, it makes them look as though they're doing something about scratching a public itch.

The right-sounding noises are made by those attending with big promises - remember John Key's jobs summit just after he took office where he promised "without delay" to investigate a nine-day working fortnight? People seem to be working longer hours than ever a decade on.

Today they'll be addressing an issue that was lost in the petrol tax haze last week as the Beehive released its land transport policy statement, aimed at making our roads safer. Last year the equivalent of more than one life a day was lost on our roads, which is so bad on many levels, not the least relating to the quality of our roads and the way we drive on them.


The Swedish example of "Vision Zero" was highlighted where the Scandinavian country halved its road deaths in just under 20 years through improved roads, driver education and a mixture of slower speed limits on some rural roads and higher speeds on some motorways. Essentially that country put its money where its mouth is.

Every one of us expects to reach our destination when we set out on a journey, we feel we're invincible, but unfortunately too many of us don't and for the families of those who don't make it home the pain is unbearable and even though it might diminish over time, the massive void is never filled.

I lost my teenage brother, younger than me by more than a decade, and the impact of that call from my sister one Thursday night never leaves me. In his final year at college his trip, on a motorbike I'd given him for a birthday present, was a short one. He was on his way, on a night teeming with rain, to a repertory production where he was the lead player. There was some loose gravel on the tarsealed road which his front wheel skidded on, sending the bike out of control into the path of a truck.

This in a sleepy town shows that it can happen anywhere and at any time and the grief in our family is never ending. The point is, each death on the road has a similar fallout and that's why today's summit in Wellington, for the sake of grieving families, has to do more than simply talk.