Tracey Rissetto, president of the AA Northland District Council, says road maintenance and traffic control in Northland both need to be improved. Photo / Michael Cunningham
AA Northland District Council President Tracey Rissetto describes herself as a simple daily commuter.
“I’m a motorist, a cyclist, a pedestrian. I’m just a daily user of transport infrastructure,” she said.
Rissetto joined the
AA Northland District Council six years ago, due to a general interest in transport and road safety, she told the Lawyer.
“I was invited to an AA Northland board meeting to see if I would be interested in joining the board as a counselor. I was very interested in the work they do.”
She said road maintenance was a safety issue in Northland, where the percentage of fatalities on trunk roads is higher than in other parts of the country.
“I think we are all aware that the quality of the road surface dictates the safety of a road. Whangārei still needs a huge investment in our road infrastructure.”
Rissetto and the AA Northland District Council have been pushing for better roads in Northland and more funding for safety improvements for some time.
Enforcement was also a problem, Rissetto said, because fewer police were on the roads — especially since the pandemic began.
“Gone are the days of seeing a marked patrol car on your way somewhere and a booze bus on your way back.”
She said she would like to see increased traffic enforcement to help keep Northland’s roads safe.
Northland fell short of all of its traffic enforcement targets last year for speeding tickets, lack of restraints and cell phone use.
Northland traffic police chief Anne-Marie Fitchett told the Lawyer last month it was partly due to Covid, but the police needed to do better.
One thing the government is doing that is important, Rissetto said, is working on driver’s licenses.
“If you have a licence, it means you have driving experience and learned to drive from someone sitting next to you.”
There are many things individuals can do to keep the roads safe, she said, especially around impairment, restraints and distractions.
“The roads are dangerous and I think sometimes we don’t respect the roads and give them the attention they deserve.”
The importance of restraints, she observed, was demonstrated by a fatal accident near Kaikohe last Saturday.
One person who was not wearing a seatbelt was thrown from the car and died, and the other suffered only minor injuries.