Weekend carnage

It was a Labour Weekend to forget for the family members, friends and work colleagues of six New Zealanders.

Six people dead.

Six people killed on our roads. Six lives snuffed out by mistakes made behind the wheel.

And, of course, the road toll is not limited to the drivers or passengers who are killed.

There are the other people who are in the same vehicles as the people killed, or in the other vehicles involved in crashes. Those who are injured, in shock and in pain. Those who will never quite feel the same when climbing into a car again.

As many have stressed, any death on the road is a tragedy. There is no "good" road toll figure, and we must never stop striving to make driving on our roads as safe as possible.

But a particularly bad weekend still feels like a national failure.

Last year, there was one death on New Zealand roads over Labour Weekend. This year, six.

In Horowhenua, East Cape, Gisborne, Whanganui, Upper Hutt and Tekapo-Twizel, six crashes have led to the planning of six funerals.

Holiday weekends are always a safety concern as people leave town to head to their favourite haunts or discover a new area of the country, and police have acknowledged the sheer volume of traffic can lead to a rise in the number of crashes.

What nobody can infer this time is that dangerous foreign drivers have largely contributed to the spate of crashes. Due to the tight restrictions at the border during the Covid-19 pandemic, the vast majority of holidaymakers and travellers are Kiwis. And they can prove that poor drivers can come from anywhere.

Police have also scotched any suggestion the horrid weekend was related to Covid-19, that people weren’t necessarily losing focus behind the wheel due to being in some sort of "unleash me now, for I am free" mode after periods of lockdown and restrictions.

It is, sadly, the same old story.

Some people are driving too fast, driving while impaired, taking risks, getting distracted, displaying arrogant and obnoxious driving behaviour, endangering the lives of those around them with recklessness.

The quality of our roads — the ones that twist and wind, the ones that are a bit rough, the ones that feature too few passing lanes — will invariably get a mention.

But, as always, it largely comes down to personal responsibility.

Drive safely. Drive sensibly. Drive to the conditions. Wear your seltbelt.

Let’s make the next holiday weekend one to remember for the right reasons.

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