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Transport Safety Minister: Road Toll Rise Worrying

Rise in road toll worrying

Transport Safety Minister Harry Duynhoven says the rise in the 2007 road toll is a tragic way to end the year on New Zealand roads.

"To finish 2007 with 423 road deaths is nothing short of a tragedy," said Mr Duynhoven today.

"We know the majority of New Zealand motorists are paying attention to road safety messages, but complacency and driver error still plague our roads.

"In 2006, 393 lives were lost on New Zealand roads. This was the lowest annual road toll recorded since 1960.

"The 2007 road toll is 30 higher than last year - a disappointing result given the emphasis placed on road safety education throughout the year.

"Most crashes on our roads are preventable if the road rules are obeyed and drivers pay attention to the task at hand. Provisional figures for 2007 show alcohol contributed to approximately one third of all road deaths, while speed also contributed to about 30 per cent. Driving is a full-time job that requires the utmost attention. A safe journey is the result of careful planning, a driver who follows the basic road rules, drives to the conditions and takes responsibility for their actions," Mr Duynhoven said.

"No single measure can provide the complete answer to reducing the road toll. If New Zealanders want to cut the number of deaths and injuries on the roads, it will take a collaborative effort - engineering improvements, further education and tougher enforcement.

"The Government is committed to reducing the road toll. In December, I released a Road Safety to 2010 package, which included proposals to target speedsters, young and novice drivers, and those who persistently break road rules by red light running and not wearing seatbelts.

"The road safety initiatives include changes to the current demerit points system, changes to penalties for some speed offences, the introduction of demerit points on intersection and seatbelt offences and measures to reduce the high crash risk to young and novice drivers.

"Last month the Government also released the Sustainable Transport discussion paper to update the New Zealand Transport Strategy, in which the Government proposes a road deaths target for 2040 of no more than 200 deaths a year. This is ambitious, but achievable, considering that 30 years or so ago the road toll was around 800, and therefore, progress in technology, road engineering and awareness should make our target attainable.

"The public must work together with authorities to ensure 2008 is a memorable year on our roads for all the right reasons," said Mr Duynhoven today.


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