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Traffic volume a factor in crash numbers for 2003

For immediate release

Increase in traffic volume a factor in crash numbers for 2003

More cars travelling more kilometres are causing more crashes on New Zealand roads.

LTSA traffic surveys show the total number of vehicle kilometres traveled (VKT) on New Zealand roads has increased by 7.5% since 2001, when the last surveys were carried out. Petrol deliveries increased by 8% in the 12 months to June 2003, suggesting that much of the increase in VKT has occurred in the most recent year.

The number of vehicle kilometres traveled on non-motorway open roads is up even more dramatically, by 15% this year from 2001. About three quarters of all fatal crashes occur on open roads.

An analysis of crashes this year shows that drink-driving has contributed to 28% of fatal crashes and excessive speed to 34%. Nearly 30% of the 405 people killed this year have not been wearing seatbelts.

"The fact is that there are more vehicles travelling more kilometres on the same road network, and too many of the people driving those vehicles are still drinking, speeding and not wearing seatbelts," said Director of Land Transport Safety David Wright.

"If it wasn't for the hard work of Police enforcing the law and trying to keep a lid on things the road toll would be a lot worse than it is. But we need to do more than just 'keep the lid on things'. We need to take back the ground we've lost this year and get back to driving the road toll down."

More people have died on New Zealand roads already this year than in all of 2002. As of today (21 November) there have been 405 people killed in 2003, compared with 404 for the entire calendar year 2002.

Mr Wright said those numbers should serve as a stark reminder that new measures are needed if the overall downward trend in road deaths which began in the early 1990's is to continue.

"New Zealand's road fatality rate has come down 50 percent since 1990, in spite of significant increases in population, on-road vehicles and kilometres driven. These gains haven't come on their own - they're the result of new enforcement measures, engineering works, road safety education and advertising, vehicle safety advances and community programmes.

"Had these measures not been introduced, and had fatality rates remained at 1990 levels, growth in the vehicle fleet would have pushed annual deaths up from 729 in 1990 to an estimated 900 last year, instead of the record low of 404.

"But we cannot expect to keep on making gains in the face of an increasing population and increasing traffic growth without introducing new measures to make the roads safer."

"The Government has set a target of no more than 300 road deaths and no more than 4,500 hospitalisations per year by 2010. Meeting those goals will not be easy. It will require the introduction of several new engineering, education and enforcement measures. It will require the commitment of government agencies and New Zealand communities, and it will also require a commitment from drivers to behave sensibly, to accept that they have a responsibility to contribute to road safety and to recognise that other road users also have rights."


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