Rising road toll shows need for drivers to take more care

EDITORIAL

Carnage, that is the only word to describe New Zealand’s weekend road toll. And to make it worse, it’s part of a steadily increasing trend.

Ten people died on our roads at the weekend, taking total fatalities this year to 293 — 41 more than at the same time in 2016. Grim projections that a further 60 people will die on our roads before the end of the year were followed by a horror crash north of Taupo on Tuesday where four people died.

The statistics are awful, and everything suggests it is not a temporary spike but a continuing trend. One man who believes this, and one who should know, is road policing manager Steve Greally who said a spike was probably just a one-off, then you reverted to the previous pattern.

“I think we are going up and that it is more than just a spike,” he said.

Between 2000 and 2010, road deaths fell annually by 10.4 percent, but since 2013 they have gone in the opposite direction. A similar trend is being seen in the United Kingdom, Europe, the United States and Australia.

A visibly upset Greally said on television news that in the past four years, our roads were like a battle zone.

One key comment he made was that the speed limit on many rural roads was too high for their engineering standards. That is particularly relevant to this district. The New Zealand Transport Agency may have to look at urgently revising some of the limits, he says.

Police must also be looking anxiously towards the coming Labour Weekend holiday, the first national holiday of the summer and one where so many take to the roads.

There is a limit to what the police, and indeed the transport agency, can do. For example, the number of fatal crash victims who were not wearing their seatbelts has doubled in the past two years. Speed is seen as the main factor in 30 percent of all deaths on New Zealand roads.

The only lasting solution to the continuing crisis on our roads lies, as it always has, with drivers taking more care.

Carnage, that is the only word to describe New Zealand’s weekend road toll. And to make it worse, it’s part of a steadily increasing trend.

Ten people died on our roads at the weekend, taking total fatalities this year to 293 — 41 more than at the same time in 2016. Grim projections that a further 60 people will die on our roads before the end of the year were followed by a horror crash north of Taupo on Tuesday where four people died.

The statistics are awful, and everything suggests it is not a temporary spike but a continuing trend. One man who believes this, and one who should know, is road policing manager Steve Greally who said a spike was probably just a one-off, then you reverted to the previous pattern.

“I think we are going up and that it is more than just a spike,” he said.

Between 2000 and 2010, road deaths fell annually by 10.4 percent, but since 2013 they have gone in the opposite direction. A similar trend is being seen in the United Kingdom, Europe, the United States and Australia.

A visibly upset Greally said on television news that in the past four years, our roads were like a battle zone.

One key comment he made was that the speed limit on many rural roads was too high for their engineering standards. That is particularly relevant to this district. The New Zealand Transport Agency may have to look at urgently revising some of the limits, he says.

Police must also be looking anxiously towards the coming Labour Weekend holiday, the first national holiday of the summer and one where so many take to the roads.

There is a limit to what the police, and indeed the transport agency, can do. For example, the number of fatal crash victims who were not wearing their seatbelts has doubled in the past two years. Speed is seen as the main factor in 30 percent of all deaths on New Zealand roads.

The only lasting solution to the continuing crisis on our roads lies, as it always has, with drivers taking more care.

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wasn't me!! - 9 days ago
Some of these people decide to run from the law . . . teenager gets arrested for reckless driving, hours later steals a car etc, etc

John Fricker - 9 days ago
So what has changed since 2010?
It's easy to blame motorists and I agree that the driver is at fault on many occasions.
NZ roads are truly awful, especially in the provinces. Even when computer-driven cars have the most sophisticated software imaginable running them they would still struggle to cope with such treacherous conditions.
The rest of the world spends fortunes on improving its highways by straightening curves, installing median barriers and placing traffic control cameras along them.
How can NZ expect to improve road safety without investing in this necessary infrastructure?

winston moreton - 9 days ago
Lowering the speed limit and enforcing it to pay for the enforcement has had a profound effect this past decade. It contributed to slowing the daily carnage to a trickle. The recent increase might simply be an increase in the number of old codgers like me still driving, the increase in visitor numbers, or even the thousands of new Kiwi or manuhiri learning to drive on the left.

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