9 Oct 2019

Review finds NZTA road safety regulation failings

11:34 am on 9 October 2019

A government review has found years of ineffective monitoring at the Transport Agency led to road safety regulation failings.

Transport Minister Phil Twyford announcing the NZTA review recommendations 9 October 2019

Transport Minister Phil Twyford announcing the NZTA review recommendations this morning. Photo: RNZ / Dom Thomas

The independent review, carried out by consultant agency MartinJenkins, lists at least 10 reasons for the failures including the agency being focused on customer service at the expense of its policing functions.

The Ministry of Transport said it accepted it was not properly monitoring the agency.

Transport Minister Phil Twyford said previous transport ministers directed the agency to focus on building roads at the expense of keeping people safe.

He said the government was adopting the review's recommendations, including an putting another $45 million and 100 new staff into its road policing.

He will also establish a new director of land transport to oversee the agency's regulatory powers.

The recommendations included:

  • Creating a statutory director of land transport who is responsible for carrying out the NZTA's regulatory functions and powers
  • Getting the NZTA Board to develop a new regulatory strategy
  • Instructing the Ministry of Transport to update the NZTA's regulatory objectives, functions and powers
  • Injecting up to $45 million into NZTA's regulatory function.

RNZ investigations in 2018 uncovered failings in the way trucks were being certified as safe, followed by revelations of further safety issues with car warrants of fitness.

In October last year the NZTA admitted regulatory failings and has since beencracking down on truck certificates of fitness and certifications, and on car warrants of fitness.

Mr Twyford said this morning the Transport Agency had made good progress in the past year.

"The board has been bolstered by new member Catherine Taylor who is an experienced regulator, brings risk management expertise and has worked for other Crown agencies and government departments.

"The review also found the Transport Ministry has now improved its monitoring approach after taking a light touch under the last government. I expect the ministry to take a more active approach to overseeing all our transport agencies," Mr Twyford said.

"As part of the work to ensure the agency is a modern regulator, the government is also investigating designating NZTA as a health and safety regulator, and options to strengthen commercial vehicle enforcement. This work and the other recommendations will be completed by early next year."

Mr Twyford said the "massive" transport regulatory failings had contributed to the rising road toll.

"We've seen a massive blowout in deaths and serious injuries on the roads over the last decade.

"And the systematic failure of NZTA's regulatory role, in my view, has clearly contributed to that.

"But the blowout... the causes go wider than just NZTA's regulatory function, that's why we've made safety the number one priority."

Transport Agency Board chairman Sir Brian Roche said work began to resolve the issues as soon as they were identified and the agency's regulatory function was "already in a very different place".

"We fully support the review's recommendations, and we will continue to work with the Minister, the Ministry of Transport and our regulatory partners as we work towards becoming a best practice regulator."

The recruitment of up to 100 positions across the regulatory services group is planned for the next 18 months.

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