With 81 days still to go in the year the number of people killed on our roads is now more than the entire 2013 road toll.
“In 2013 New Zealand had a record low road toll of 253 deaths but since then the number of road deaths has sadly gone back up,” says AA Motoring Affairs General Manager Mike Noon.
So far in 2016 there have been 255 deaths as well as thousands of people injured.
“As a leading road safety campaigner the AA is extremely sad and concerned to see more people hurt and dying in crashes,” says Noon.
The toll raises serious questions about the Government’s underfunding of road safety, says Labour’s Transport spokesperson Sue Moroney.
“Questions need to be asked about the role played by National’s cuts to road maintenance in the regions and policing in the rising road toll,” says Moroney.
“Despite more vehicles on our roads, NZTA spent $55m less on road operations, maintenance and renewals outside of the main centres in 2015 than it did in 2010. 100 Police Officers have been removed from road safety duties.”
Associate Transport Minister Craig Foss has defended the government’s approach to road safety.
“As well as investing in infrastructure and education, we’ve made significant legislative changes such as strengthening driver licence testing, lowering the breath and blood alcohol limits, mandating electronic stability control and, most recently, introducing alcohol interlocks for serious and repeat drink-driving offenders,” says Foss.
“The recently-released Safer Journeys third action plan is an opportunity to refresh the Government’s approach to road safety and ensure initiatives are targeted to the areas of greatest risk, based on the latest data.”
Regardless of what lies behind the increase the most important thing is turning it around and every driver can play their part, says Noon.
“Every time someone slows down in poor conditions, or makes sure they have a good following distance, or doesn’t use their cellphone when driving it could be the time that saves a life. The AA wants everyone to make those safe choices.”
The New Zealand Automobile Association’s top recommendations to avoid a road accident are:
• Drive to the conditions
• Stick to a safe speed
• Give yourself more following distance
• Keep your focus on driving
• Don’t drive when you are tired