31 Dec 2013

Plea for New Year revellers to take care

10:16 pm on 31 December 2013

The Automobile Association has urged people to organise a safe way home from New Year's celebrations and to have a sober driver.

New Zealand is heading towards the lowest road till since 1950. Figures released by the association on Tuesday show that 254 people died on the roads in 2013 - 53 fewer than last year. Over the past 60 years, the only other year with a road toll below 300 was in 2011.

The holiday road toll stood at six on Tuesday night. The association's general manager of motoring affairs, Mike Noon, said these figures are the same as the whole period for 2012, which is not good.

"Of great concern here is that there have been some multiple car crashes and multiple serious injuries. So we have a lot of good folk in hospital at the moment very seriously injured, as well as those that tragically have lost their lives.

"It's a sobering thought for all of us. If you're out there celebrating tonight, please take care. If you're drinking, don't drive at all."

The association said 2013 has seen the lowest number of people killed in road crashes since 1950, when the road toll was 232.

Passenger deaths are down by 41%, while motorcyclist deaths are down by 18% compared with 2012. Deaths among those aged 25 to 39 years of age have dropped by 38%.

The regions with the biggest reductions are Gisborne-Hawkes Bay, Waikato, Manawatu-Wanganui and Southland.

Hundreds of complaints in Waikato

Waikato police say they have received 357 complaints about poor driver behaviour since Christmas Day, including a motorcyclist carrying a baby without a helmet and a truck driver who wouldn't pull over, creating a queue of 172 cars.

Police said the biggest problems are speed and driver distraction.

The officer in charge road policing in the region, Sergeant Neil Mansill, said one car rolled over after trying to avoid a van crossing into his lane near Huntly.

Another car was clipped by a six-tonne truck near Hamilton after the truck driver was distracted by a bee that flew into his cab.

Mr Mansill said innocent parties are suffering through no fault of their own and drivers need to take more care.