Otago road toll up three on 2011; national toll also up

Otago's road toll increased to 17 deaths last year, while the national road toll was also up.

Last year's national road toll of 306 was the second-lowest in 60 years, but was more than the 284 deaths recorded on the country's roads in 2011.

Figures released to the Otago Daily Times show there were 17 road deaths in Otago last year, up from 14 the previous period.

That compares to a road toll of 65 in Waikato, Auckland (41), and Canterbury (33). Otago was seventh-equal with Northland and Taranaki, which recorded large increases.

Of the 13 local government regions, six (including Otago) recorded increases. Five recorded a decrease, and Waikato and Southland recorded the same total as the previous period.

Ministry of Transport figures show the number of crashes involving three or more fatalities last year was eight, resulting in a combined 30 deaths, compared with one accident resulting in three deaths the previous year.

''This is a reminder for drivers of their responsibility to their passengers to get them to their destination safely,'' Associate Minister of Transport Simon Bridges said.

He added multiple fatality crashes, along with motorcycle fatalities, were largely behind the increased road toll of 2012.

Forty-four motorcyclists and one pillion passenger died last year, compared to 33 the previous year.

Alcohol was a factor in 31% of fatal crashes, compared with 30% the previous year, while speed was a factor in 25% of fatal crashes, compared with 29% the previous period.

Mr Power said he was pleased with the record low for fatalities in the 15 to 24 age group, with 65 fatalities in 2012, compared with 82 in 2011.

''In the past our young people have been highly over represented in the road toll. While this number is still too high, I am pleased to see that more of them are taking road safely seriously.''

Tougher restricted licence tests, and law changes including raising the driving age to 16 and a zero blood alcohol limit played a ''beneficial role'' in that reduction.

Highway Patrol Sergeant Peter Muldrew, of Oamaru, said over the holiday period there had been a ''steady stream'' of people reporting bad driving.

''Members of the public are taking responsibility and reporting these things through to us, and we are catching them."

Sgt Muldrew said on New Year's Eve he caught a disqualified driver following a complaint from a member of the public about the person's driving.

''Our lives are only separated by four inches of paint ... the opportunity to stop these drivers may lead save a greater incident further down the track.''

Police based at Palmerston yesterday morning stopped 700 drivers, with none processed for drink driving.

Waitaki police have named the 22 year-old man killed in a fatal car crash in Ngapara.

Scott James Addison, of Oamaru, died when his car crashed into a tree on the Tokarahi-Ngapara Road, on Friday, December 28. Constable Craig Bennett, of Kurow, said speed and alcohol were major contributing factors in the crash, and it appeared Mr Addison was not wearing a seat belt.

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