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A road safety advocacy group is calling for fellow southerners to stop calling road deaths a "road toll" so that people will start taking the issue more seriously.
“A toll implies we are comfortable paying with our lives, our children’s lives, our parents’ lives, our family or friends’ lives for the convenience of road travel,” Southern Road Safety Influencing Group Chairman and Southland District Councillor Brian Dillon said.
This year 31 people in Otago and Southland had died on the road and many more people were affected by these events, he said.
“It’s time to stop and think about this. Should we keep accepting road death as normal? Is this what we want for our communities?”
The Southern Road Safety Influencing Group challenges everyone to stop talking about it as a road toll and call it what it is – death, he said.
“Maybe it will mean we take it more seriously. We’ll stop congratulating ourselves when it’s lower than the year before or complaining when it’s higher and realise there is no good number of deaths on our roads. Any number is too many,” Cr Dillon said.
Tomorrow the yearly road toll will start again from zero. However, the Christmas/New Year holiday period road toll will end at 6am on Wednesday, January 3.
1461 people have died on Southland and Otago roads since 1980.
“That’s very close to the population of Riverton and 400 more than Waikouaiti. If an entire community was wiped out we would be calling it a national tragedy, but when it comes to road death we call it a toll,” Cr Dillon said.
The Southern Road Safety Group was not going to start from zero in 2018 as an acknowledgement of the number of people who were killed in 2017, he said.
“It’s about respect. We aren’t going to forget the lives lost on our roads and the communities that are suffering. We are going to keep counting and we ask you join us, because for Southland and Otago any number is too many,” Cr Dillon said.