May 23, 2007
Recent tragic events in the Bay of Plenty and concerns over young driver behaviour in other parts of the country have highlighted, once again, the role that mandatory insurance could play in road safety.
That’s the view of the New Zealand Motoring Writers’ Guild, which is backing Transport Safety Minister Harry Duynhoven’s bid to introduce compulsory third party car insurance in this country.
“It is a measure we have been advocating for some time, and are pleased to see it is finally gaining some traction with the country’s decision makers,” says NZ Motoring Writers’ Guild president Jacqui Madelin.
Madelin is quick to stress that compulsory insurance is not a magic bullet – there is no single answer to New Zealand’s road toll. But it could form part of an armoury that may not only discourage the ‘boy racer’ but could benefit the ordinary novice driver, going through their risky first months of driving.
At present there’s no way of ensuring drivers start out in cars commensurate with their skill: “With no compulsory insurance, no restriction on what a young driver can buy, cheap used import cars and easy finance deals, the only limit to what a young person drives is their wallet,” Madelin says.
Overseas experience has shown that compulsory third party insurance effectively prices most novice drivers out of the performance market, and keeps them in cars more suited to their level of experience which, Madelin says, “means they make their mistakes at slower speeds.”
Ironically, the mayor of one town troubled by ‘boy racer’ crashes stated compulsory insurance wouldn’t work, as his own daughter had been unable to insure her lowered ‘girl racer’ Mercedes – thus inadvertently proving the point. Under a compulsory insurance regimen, that young driver would have had to reconsider her vehicle purchasing decision.
There’s a benefit to all road users from such a scheme, as universal third-party insurance reduces the cost of crashes to any innocent party. “At the moment we self-insure to offset the risk an uninsured driver will hit our own car. It puzzles visiting English motorists, who are used to a compulsory third party insurance environment, and can’t understand why we’d take the risk.”
The New Zealand Motoring Writers’ Guild is the professional body for the country’s automotive media. Membership comprises over 40 specialist motoring journalists in the print, broadcast and internet-based media.
For further information contact:
Motoring Writers’ Guild president
0274 751 521
Motoring Writers’ Guild vice president
027 686 3711