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Highway Patrol proving effective say Ministers

21 February, 2002 Media Statement

Highway Patrol proving effective say Ministers

A big decrease in deaths on New Zealand’s state highways since 1999 is attributable to an effective Highway Patrol, say Police Minister George Hawkins and Transport Minister Paul Swain.

A Road Policing Quarterly Report received this week by the Ministers shows deaths on state highways between 2002 and 2001 fell by 28.2 per cent.

“The report shows a steady decrease in fatalities on state highways since the launch of the Patrol in December 2000,” the Ministers said.

While in 1999 state highways claimed 312 lives, in 2000 and 2001 the figures were 276 and 266 respectively. Last year, 191 highway fatalities were recorded, 75 fewer than the previous 12 months.

The report stated the dramatic decrease in highway deaths between 2001 and 2002 coincided with the full implementation of the Patrol in December 2001.

“The Patrol has improved safety on our highways, there’s no doubt about that,” Mr Hawkins said.

The data also shows a link between the falling road toll and increase in enforcement of certain offences.

“Reductions in the road toll were more pronounced in the second half of 2002, corresponding with an increase in the number of speeding and failure to wear restraint notices issued by Police,” Mr Hawkins said.

During 2002 speed enforcement increased 40.1 per cent compared with the previous year and restraint enforcement by 51.4 per cent.

"It's very encouraging to see that the new Highway Patrol and the targeting of certain offences by Police is having a major impact on the road toll," said Mr Swain.

"These tougher enforcement measures, combined with education and road design initiatives aimed at lowering the road toll, mean we are well placed to achieve our goal of no more than 300 road fatalities by 2010."

Currently the overall road toll is at its lowest rate in 40 years, with the 2002 toll of 404 deaths 11 per cent down on the previous year.

Approximately 225 specialist officers in 183 specially marked cars make up the Patrol, which aims to reduce road trauma and make roads safer through a highly visible, dedicated police presence.
The cars were the first to carry the new blue and yellow police colours and are distinguishable from other police vehicles by the words 'Highway Patrol' on the rear panels.


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