Dunedin worst for crashes

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Statistically, Dunedin is New Zealand's worst city for motor vehicle crashes and casualties but authorities say the numbers are dropping.

The Dunedin City Council says it has done all it can to improve the city's intersections, which are the main troublespots.

Dunedin's poor record has emerged from a report released this week by the Ministry of Transport - ''Motor vehicle crashes in New Zealand 2011'' - which compiled data taken from reports by police who attended fatal and injury crashes.

The report includes crashes and casualties by population centre. Dunedin recorded the highest proportion of crash casualties per head of population of all cities.

Last year, the city recorded 364 injury crashes, placing it third behind the larger centres of Auckland (2903) and Christchurch (715).

However, Dunedin had 29 crashes per 10,000 citizens, placing it ahead of Palmerston North (24) and Napier (23).

The same year, the city also recorded the highest number of casualties per 10,000 people (38) ahead of Napier (31), Palmerston North (28) and Hamilton (26).

In 2011 there were four fatal crashes in Dunedin, the lowest of the main centres. The city also recorded the third highest number of total injuries (470) behind Auckland (3685) and Christchurch (913).

Dunedin City Council senior traffic engineer Ron Minnema said the accident rate was reducing and that about half of the city's crashes occurred at intersections.

''We have done some major upgrade of high-risk intersections and technically, we have done as much as we can ... now it is up to the road user to be patient and do what they should be doing; don't jaywalk; turn when you are supposed to, and don't go through orange lights.''

In addition Dunedin had ''unique climatic conditions,'' and was over-represented in some areas, such as the number of young people who chose to study in the city.

A New Zealand Transport Association road safety report 2006-10 was presented to the council's infrastructure services committee, which showed accident and casualty rates in the city were reducing.

Southern District Road Policing Manager Inspector Andrew Burns said ''One of the contributing factors to the higher figures for Dunedin is that there is a greater level of compliance for crash reporting and every crash is documented''.

''Police gather as much information on crashes as we can so that we can task our staff to the places of highest risk.

''With this approach, we have seen that crashes have been reducing steadily.''

Clutha and Southland districts recorded a high number of crashes per 10,000 people - 46 and 48 respectively, followed by Waitaki (39) and Queenstown-Lakes (30).

Nationally there were 259 fatal road crashes, 9545 injury crashes, 284 deaths, and a total of 12,574 people injured in motor vehicle accidents last year.


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