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Worst April in four years for road deaths

Worst April in four years drives road deaths into triple figures

The same behaviours are costing too many New Zealanders their lives, warns the country's top road policeman, as the death toll on the nation's roads reaches triple figures, with the worst April in four years.

"Frustratingly, it's still the basics – drinking and driving, going too fast for the conditions and not wearing a seatbelt, or a combination of all three – that is needlessly killing large numbers of New Zealanders on the nation's roads every week," says Assistant Commissioner Road Policing, Dave Cliff.

"While the vast majority of road users are doing things right, some are still making all the wrong decisions, with enormous cost to themselves, their families and other innocent road users.

"So far this year, 102 people have already died, with a third of the year barely over. This is 15 more than at the same time in 2013, while hundreds more have been seriously injured in crashes that were largely avoidable.

"At the current rate, at least another 200 people will die and another 1900 will be hospitalised for more than a day by the time we reach the end of the year unless all of us do our part, whether as drivers, passengers, mates or family."

Mr Cliff says preliminary reports from Police staff into the 96 fatalities that occurred up to April 30 shows that more than a quarter involved an alcohol affected driver, more than a third involved a speeding driver, and half of all the deaths involved both factors.

Preliminary information gathered by Police shows:

· 27 of the 96 deaths involved an alcohol affected driver

· 38 deaths involved a speeding driver

· Together, speed and alcohol accounted for 48 deaths

· 22 of those killed were not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the crash, while 11 of them were involved in crashes where alcohol was also suspected

· 74 of the 96 deaths were on the open road (roads with a speed limit of more than 70km/h)

· 41 of the 74 open road deaths were on state highways.

"While road deaths over the longer term are still trending downwards, what is concerning is that April 2014 has bucked the trend with 31 deaths – the worst since 2010 when 42 people died, and 14 more than in April last year.

"Police and its fellow road safety agencies are doing all they can to target these unsafe and high risk driving behaviours, and our officers will continue to focus on these. This includes breath testing drivers anywhere at anytime, strictly enforcing safer speeds with initiatives such as the reduced 4km/h threshold during holiday periods, and ticketing those who fail to wear their seatbelts.

"But it also comes down to drivers making good choices behind the wheel. That might mean simply buckling their seatbelt, organising a sober driver, or slowing down in the wet, particularly with the winter months coming up. It's not rocket science. Mates and family can also influence that decision-making and play a part in keeping us all safe," Mr Cliff says.

"Last year we had a record low number of people killed in crashes, and our road policing staff will do everything in their power to achieve that again. But we cannot do it alone – because road safety is still everyone’s responsibility. It's absolutely basic: slow down, don't drink and drive, wear your seatbelt and survive. Drive as if your life depends on it – because it does."

ENDS

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