1 Jan 2017

NZ's worsening annual road toll 'disappointing'

5:38 pm on 1 January 2017

The provisional annual road toll has increased, and the government says simple road safety messages do not seem to be getting through to a small number of people.

Flower were left at the roadside where an unladen logging truck hit the car the men were travelling in.

Flowers at the site of a fatal crash near Katikati in Bay of Plenty: The government intends to spend millions to improve road safety around the country. Photo: RNZ / Tom Furley

The toll for 2016 is 326, seven more than the previous year and 30 more than the year before that.

A quarter of last year's fatal crashes involved drivers going too fast for the conditions.

Drugs and alcohol were factors in 40 percent of fatal crashes, while 39 percent of drivers and 42 percent of passengers killed were not wearing seatbelts.

The duty minister, Michael Woodhouse, said the increase over the past three years was disappointing.

"It does relate to the number of cars that are on the road, and the distances that we're travelling, and that has certainly increased over the last couple of years.

"What is disappointing is that the causes of those fatal crashes haven't changed."

He said the government was investing heavily to improve black spots on the country's roads.

"In addition to the business-as-usual improvements that we make to our roads, more than $600 million has been allocated to around 50 signature projects around the country to make some of those driving hot spots safer

"People will make mistakes, that's understandable, and certainly we want to make sure our roads are as forgiving as they can be."

Associate Transport Minister David Bennett said earlier that the Ministry of Transport had commissioned research to better understand the factors influencing the road toll.

The toll for the current holiday period, which ends at 8am on 4 January, is now 18 - six more deaths than the previous year.