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Road toll the lowest in 40 years

Road toll the lowest in 40 years

Transport Minister Paul Swain has welcomed the news that 2002's road toll is the lowest in 40 years.

The 2002 road toll this morning stood at 403, the lowest toll since 1963, when there were 394 road deaths.

"The huge increase in the number of vehicles in the last 40 years makes the achievement particularly pleasing," said Mr Swain. "In 1963 we had less than a million vehicles. Today we have more than 2.7 million."

"New Zealand has made great strides in road safety over the past decade. Last year's toll compares to 455 road fatalities in 2001 and 650 in 1991.

"It seems we are getting the road safety mix basically right and we are on track to reach our goal of no more than 300 fatalities by 2010.

"To help us achieve that goal the government unveiled a $22 million package of road safety measures in September 2002, which included new funding to target rural drink driving, Auckland motorways and heavy vehicle safety, additional funding for road safety advertising, a pilot to test potential changes to the graduated driver licensing system as well as money for road safety programmes in communities and schools. We are monitoring the effectiveness of the package throughout the first year and reviewing it in July 2003, at which stage new road safety measures may be looked at.

"This mixture of education, enforcement and engineering measures is paying off," said Mr Swain. "Average speeds are down, seatbelt wearing is up and police are reporting fewer drunk drivers on the roads. Much of the credit for this goes to the police and I'd like to thank them for their efforts.

"While the low road toll was good news there is no room for complacency. The holiday period is traditionally the most dangerous time on New Zealand roads and I'd like to remind drivers to take extra care as they return home from their holidays."

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