By Gurbir Singh:

NewsViews Focus

Sadly, yesterday (April 1) was the worst single-day toll on New Zealand roads for nearly 16 years with nine fatalities in 3 separate crashes. With 101 road deaths already since January this year, no one really knows where this figure will reach in months ahead.

Last year New Zealand roads claimed lives of 380 people (two more than 2017),  and was the deadliest road toll since 2009 when 384 people were killed. Seventeen people died in the week ending 22nd Dec. itself in a string of accidents.

This prompted the Police Minister Stuart Nash to say: “Although road deaths as a proportion of our population and in comparison to the number of cars on the road has halved in the past 20 years, we can do much better.

” We can work together to reduce the number of deaths. The main contributing factors are speed, failure to wear a seatbelt, distraction such as using a cellphone, and impairment from drugs, alcohol, or fatigue.cent), and fatigue (9 percent).”

Yesterday’s fatalities were heartbreaking for the the Associate Minister of Transport, Julie Genter. “Over the weekend, and again today, we’ve been reminded why any fatality is a tragedy. Families, and whole communities are in shock and I know there’ll be much grief and sadness.”

There are several factors that cause fatality and serious injuries and that include, failure to wear seat belt, not paying attention, drivers speeding, drinking alcohol, failing to give way or stop.

There are other significant contributing factors that are often overlooked. According to James Campbell, Principal Adviser, Ministry of Transport Mobility and Safety, “40 per cent of New Zealand’s state highways had a two-star safety rating – which meant the roads had undivided opposing lanes, were poorly aligned, featured hazards such as narrow or unsealed shoulders or had unforgiving roadside objects such as trees, deep ditches, and concrete poles.”

In sharp contrast to New Zealand, road deaths in most OECD countries have actually decreased.

According to the 2018 road safety report of the International Transport Forum at the OECD, in Norway and Luxembourg, for example, the number of road deaths has decreased by 22 per cent from 2016 to 2017.

Two other countries with significant reductions were Finland, 18 per cent, and Slovenia, 20 per cent.

Even in the United States, there had been a 0.8 per cent reduction from 2016, according to this report.

“Stick with the road rules, and we will all arrive safely… It’s all about patience and tolerance “ as Police National Road Safety Manager, Fitzgerald said.

He is right – if we follow his advice, we can all hope to be back home every evening with our families. No one perhaps then will have to miss Easter or Christmas again. No family or community will have to undergo the trauma of losing a loved one.

The onus is on you who use the roads, be safe.