Road toll falls 33% in South

Fewer people died on Otago-Southland roads last year than in 2012.

Numbers were down a third compared with the previous year, provisional figures show.

The national road toll for 2013, of 254, was the lowest in the past 60 years, Associate Transport Minister Michael Woodhouse, of Dunedin, announced yesterday. Sixteen of these deaths were on Southern roads, 12 in Otago and four in Southland.

The Otago toll of 12 was the lowest on Otago roads since 2002, when 11 people died.

Of those who died on Southern roads last year, nine were drivers, three passengers, two motorcycle riders and two pedestrians. No cyclists died on Southern roads last year. Of the eight who died nationally, four were in Canterbury.

Drivers aged over 60 were overrepresented in fatalities in the South, with seven deaths, followed by those aged 40-59 (four), and those aged 20-24 (three).

The national toll of 254 was down on 308 the year before and 284 in 2011.

Mr Woodhouse said it was ''particularly pleasing'' 15-24-year-olds had recorded a significant drop (37%) in road deaths, compared with 2009.

While the number of cars on the roads had increased, the annual road toll was now more than halved from 20 years ago, when 600 New Zealanders a year were killed on the roads.

Provisional 2013 data indicates alcohol and/or drugs were a factor in 30% of fatal crashes, compared with 31% in 2012. Speed was a factor in 32% of fatal crashes, compared with 25% in 2012.

Police Assistant Commissioner Dave Cliff said the lower toll was the result of many factors, including better legislation, enhanced enforcement, safer vehicles and better road design.

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