Lowest NZ road toll since 1952

Gerry Brownlee
Gerry Brownlee
The record low 2011 road toll of 284 was encouraging but Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee and Police Minister Anne Tolley urged road users to remain vigilant.

The toll includes (as at December 23) at least 23 deaths in 20 fatal crashes in the Southern police district in 2011. Final totals were not available yesterday.

Thirty-one people were killed on Otago (19) and Southland's (12) roads in 2010.

The provisional 2011 national toll compares with 375 in 2010, 384 in 2009 and 366 in 2008.

The last time the road toll was below 300 was in 1952, when 272 people died.

The lowest road toll recorded in Otago was 11 in 2002 and 2009, and the lowest in Southland was six in 2005.

The ministers said the current holiday road toll illustrated why there was no room for complacency.

New Zealand still ranked poorly beside other countries for the amount of death and injury on its roads and alcohol continued to play too big a part in the road toll, as did young drivers.

It would be an ongoing challenge to keep the road toll low throughout 2012 and beyond.

Provisional data for 2011 indicated alcohol was a factor in 38% of fatal crashes and speed a factor in 26%.

"The last time New Zealand had a road toll this low the population was half what it is now and there were less than half a million vehicles on the road, compared to the 3.2 million we have now," Mr Brownlee says.

Greater police enforcement and generally higher public awareness of safety issues were likely to have played a part in the low road toll. Other factors were fuel prices and economic factors, legislation and road rule changes.

The Ministry of Transport had been analysing the road to find the quantifiable trends behind crashes, but further work was needed to help explain just what was so significant about 2011.

Complete injury data for 2011 was not yet available.


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