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Coroner likes 'holistic' road safety approach


Waikato Bay of Plenty Coroner Peter Ryan recently attended a Safe System in Practice course.

Working together to reduce truck rolloverLooking at road crashes from a new perspective, and seeing the prevention of them as a societal issue are two of main learnings from the course for Peter Ryan. 

The intensive two day ‘action learning’ course which draws on real world examples was recently held in Hamilton, with around 65 people attending to learn about the Safe System approach to creating a forgiving road system and how they can apply it in their job.

“The course was very interesting as it encouraged us to think 'outside the square' with regard to causative and preventative factors. To accept that to err is human, and therefore we need a safer system to cope with driver error, is a somewhat radical concept compared to the traditional societal view that a car crash is usually due to driver carelessness or recklessness, and therefore drivers should take more care,” says Peter.

“However, a person should not have to die or suffer serious injury as the consequence of a moment's carelessness or distraction. If a safer road or transportation system can prevent such a consequence then it must be beneficial to society as a whole as well as to the driver concerned.”

He can see huge benefit from the course in his role as Coroner, with it enabling him to consider the causes of road crashes from a broader view, and to consider recommendations for improvement or prevention as a result.

“It was good to learn a holistic approach is being applied to this issue with a wider range of factors now looked at than just focussing on driver’s actions.”

Over 1000 people have attended the course since it began in 2012, with around 220 people attending the four courses held in Hamilton, Tauranga and Rotorua over that time.

A wide range of people attend, including Police, land use and transport planners, road safety coordinators, contractors, and policy makers. There has also been interest from Australia in adapting it.