2 Jan 2020

2019 road toll lower than previous year's but still 'staggering'

12:27 pm on 2 January 2020

For the first time in six years, there was a reduction in the number of deaths on the road last year.

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Photo: RNZ Insight / Ben Strang

At the end of the year 353 people had died on the roads, a drop of 24 compared to 2018's road toll of 377.

Assistant commissioner for road policing, Sandra Venables, said the drop was good news, but the loss of life was still far too high.

"It is promising to see after years of death and serious injuries increasing on New Zealand roads, it is starting to turn around," Venables said.

"But this number is still no comfort to the people who have lost loved ones on our roads."

Duty Minister Iain Lees-Galloway echoed those thoughts, saying the decrease is positive, but the number of dead is still "staggering".

"I want to acknowledge and thank all our emergency response professionals who deal first-hand with the trauma on our roads and work to save lives on a daily basis," Lees-Galloway said.

"During this busy holiday period I encourage everyone to stay focused, be patient and drive according to the conditions every time they travel. I really want everyone to arrive home safely from their holiday destinations."

Lees-Galloway said road safety is a key priority for the government.

"This year more safety upgrades, like side and median crash barriers, will be rolled out across the 3000 km of high-risk state highway identified by the NZ Transport Agency.

"[This year] marks the beginning of the government's new 10-year road safety action plan, focused on greater investment in safety upgrades, driver training, enforcement, and safer speed limits."

Venables said the police would continue to focus on the key factors that led to people dying on the road.

"These are not wearing restraints, being impaired or distracted, and speed," she said.

"January is one of our highest risk months on the roads as so many people are still on holiday; travelling around visiting loved ones and making the most of their time off over the summer.

"We want all road users to do this safely, and not end up in hospital, or worse, the mortuary."

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