Breadcrumbs

The Ministry of Transport is reminding road users to take care on the road over the up-coming long weekend, especially in light of an analysis that shows most fatal crashes over December and January occurred on the open road.

“Many people will take advantage of Waitangi Day falling on a Friday, and extend their summer holiday by travelling to the beach, bach, crib or lake, or to visit friends and family,” Leo Mortimer, Land Transport Safety Manager, Ministry of Transport says.

“We want to remind all road users to make sure that they and their vehicle are in good shape to travel. Patience and consideration are also important, as well as making sure that all aspects of road safety are followed,” Mr Mortimer says.

An initial analysis of the road toll for December 2014 and January 2015 shows that the 51 road deaths for the combined months was the second lowest number since 1965. The lowest of 42 was in December 2013/January 2014.

“This is not a detailed analysis, but simply a snapshot of the road toll for these summer months. It allows us to make a comparison with other years, and to look at overall trends,” Mr Mortimer says.

The long term data, both for the months of December and January, and the road toll overall, shows that while there may be months and years where the number of road deaths is higher or lower, overall the road toll is coming down.

“This snapshot shows that some road users are still making poor decisions, as nearly a third of drivers and passengers killed were not wearing a safety belt or other restraint at the time of the crash. Sadly, speed and alcohol also still feature highly as a contributing factor in fatal crashes.

“As well as more deaths occurring on open roads over summer, we also see other seasonal trends, such as higher numbers of motorcyclist fatalities. The NZ Transport Agency and ACC are working with the Motorcycle Safety Advisory Council on initiatives such as the Southern Coromandel Loop project to help improve safety for motorcyclists. This is also a timely reminder to motorcyclists and their passengers of the importance of wearing the right protective gear, and taking advantage of the training available,” Mr Mortimer says.

“We are all too aware that the road toll is not just about statistics, as every one of these figures represents a life lost, and families and friends who will not have another summer with their loved ones.

“We thank all those who do take care of themselves and are mindful of others on the roads. We strongly urge everyone to make some smart, simple decisions that might just save their life —buckle up, drive sober and choose a speed that is within the limit and suits the road and weather conditions.”

By the numbers

Over December 2014 and January 2015, there were 51 deaths on the road (provisional numbers)

►    42 deaths (82 percent) were on the open road

►    29 of those deaths (just over two thirds) were on State highways.

►   13  fatalities (25 percent) were motorcyclists (including 1 pillion passenger)

Preliminary crash reports indicate over December 2014 and January 2015:

►   Over a third (35 percent) of the deaths were in crashes that involved alcohol

►   Nearly half (49 percent) of the deaths involved travelling ‘too fast for conditions’

►   Over half (55 percent) of the deaths involved alcohol and/or travelling ‘too fast for conditions’

►   23 (45 percent or just under half) of the deaths were in single vehicle crashes where a driver lost control of the vehicle or ran off the road

►   12 (24 percent or nearly a quarter) of the deaths were in head-on crashes

►   11 (30 percent or nearly one third) of the 37 vehicle occupants (drivers and passengers) were not restrained at the time of the crash.

 December–January road deaths from 1990

Dec-Jan period ending in

Deaths

1990

124

1991

116

 1992

98

 1993

100

1994

97

1995

113

1996

95

1997

98

1998

107

1999

96

2000

70

2001

92

2002

93

2003

77

2004

83

2005

81

2006

81

2007

85

2008

81

2009

82

2010

72

2011

60

2012

68

2013

57

2014

42

2015 (provisional)

51

 Graph of road deaths from 1 December to 31 January 2008-2015

The December/January snapshot is focused on fatalities only, as injury data is not available for up to six months.

The Ministry of Transport maintains a rolling road toll, based on information provided by the New Zealand Police from the Crash Analysis System. The road toll is provisional for 30 days. Any deaths from injuries sustained in a crash within the 30 day period counts towards the toll on the day that the crash occurred.

Deaths that occur due to a crash on a beach are included in the road toll. Deaths that occur due to a crash on private properties such as driveways, racetracks and farms are excluded from the road toll. Likewise, a death caused primarily by medical incident such as a heart attack or stroke is also excluded. A death ruled as a suicide by a coroner is also excluded.

Prior to 1 January 2014, cycling fatalities were included in the road toll only if a vehicle was involved. To align New Zealand’s reporting with other countries (such as Australia) that also adopt the ‘safe system’ approach to road safety, since 1 January 2014, cyclist only on-road deaths count towards the road toll.

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