Rural Women New Zealand (RWNZ) has issued a submission expressing its support for the Government’s Land Transport Amendment Bill whilst also expressing concern about the recent spike in New Zealand’s road toll and current levels of policing.
“On the whole the changes in the bill are directed towards improving road safety and we support them on that basis” says National President, Wendy McGowan.The Bill sets harsher penalties for offenders who flee the police and also makes it mandatory for high-alcohol offenders and repeat-drink and drivers to have breath testing alcohol devices installed in their cars. “However, we also note recent spikes in the road toll over the last three years, which we think do raise questions about the adequacy of current policing levels”. According to figures from the Ministry of Transport, the road toll in 2015 involved the highest number of fatalities on New Zealand’s roads since 2010. “We think the question of whether current policing levels are appropriate for road safety purposes should be examined as part of this Bill. The changes introduced in this Bill will only be effective with the right level of police enforcement ” says Wendy McGowan.
In its submission, RWNZ also recommend that the Committee further examine the competition effects of new changes the Bill introduces to “small passenger services”. These changes will require the likes of Uber to be subject to the same licensing regime as taxi drivers, with the intention of creating a more level playing field. However, according to RWNZ’s submission the playing field in rural areas is already heavily skewed towards taxi drivers, which have a significant competitive hold on the market and the ability to charge extortionate prices. The lack of affordable taxi services in rural areas is a strong contributor to isolation in rural areas, particularly for vulnerable population groups like the elderly. “We want to make sure that these changes will encourage competition in the market, rather than imposing additional compliance costs on potential new players” says Wendy McGowan.