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Christmas is coming, make it one worth celebrating

For immediate release

20 December 2001

Christmas is coming - make it one worth celebrating

Police and the Land Transport Safety Authority are pleading with New Zealand drivers to remember the basics of road safety and avoid tragedies over the holidays.

"Christmas should be full of joy and celebration, but every year dozens of family holidays are marred by suffering and grief from road crashes," said Director of Land Transport Safety David Wright.

There were 16 fatal crashes and 235 injury crashes over the Christmas holiday period last year, resulting in 20 deaths and over 400 injuries. Mr Wright said in spite of increased amounts of traffic on the road, a similar toll could be avoided this year if drivers could remember the fundamentals of safe driving.

"That means buckling up everyone in the car on every single trip, and especially putting the children in approved child restraints. It also means being patient, paying attention to the road and keeping your speed down. And for goodness sake, if you're going to drink these holidays, please don't drive."

Mr Wright said more than 160 people had died on the roads this year because of drinking and speeding drivers, and more than 30 were dead because they weren't buckled up.

Police National Road Safety Manager Steve Fitzgerald said police would be taking a hard line with anyone flouting the law over the holidays.

"We've got 183 highway patrol cars at our disposal, and they’ll be out there enforcing speed limits, catching drink-drivers and checking for safety belts.

If you get pulled up, don't expect any leniency. We won't be listening to excuses this year - the stakes are just too high. People may think getting a ticket is a lousy Christmas present, but it's nothing compared to how a road crash will spoil your holiday."

Mr Fitzgerald also reminded drivers that all fixed speed cameras and laser speed guns would be operating over the holidays.

"If you insist on speeding, your chances are better than ever of getting caught. But there is one guaranteed way of avoiding a nasty fine - keep to the speed limit."

Mr Wright said while New Zealand was tracking towards a record low road toll for the year, the events of recent days showed how quickly tragedy could strike.

"We've had 14 people killed on our roads just in the past week, and 27 are dead already this month. The families of those people don't have anything to celebrate this year.

"Remember, the best present you can give to anyone this Christmas is to arrive alive and spend the day with them safe and sound. So please - drive safely."

The official holiday period will begin at 4pm on Monday 24 December and end at 6 am on Thursday 3 January 2002.


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