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Don't make death a guest at home this christmas

Title: Don't make death and injury guests at your home this Christmas.

Don't make death and injury guests at your home this Christmas.

Eight people in Canterbury could die during the twelve days of Christmas/ New Year, say local Police.

"That's the average number of people who have died on Canterbury roads for the last five years at Christmas/ New Year holiday times," says Inspector Al Stewart, Canterbury Road Policing Manager. "That means someone is killed every 57 hours 30 minutes over the holiday season. That compares with someone killed every 191 hours during 2008 as a whole."

"Police officers hate having to make that knock on the door; watch your face as you realize what they are there for," he says. "Alcohol, speed and inattention are all going to lead to death and injury on the roads this holiday season. Unfortunately we can almost guarantee that."

The holiday period in New Zealand has traditionally been a time of high traffic crash and trauma risk.

"Road safety is everyone's responsibility, only by working together can we reduce it," says Inspector Stewart.

The 2009/10 Christmas holiday period officially starts at 4pm, Thursday 24 December 2009 and ends at 05:59am on Tuesday 5 January 2010.

"It is partly due to all holiday periods traditionally being a higher risk, and partly due to the sheer volume of traffic and travel taken by New Zealanders and tourists over the Christmas period as people take leave from work and travel to summer holiday destinations," he says. "Traffic volumes on Canterbury highways increase by 23% over the Christmas holiday period. Many people travel on SH1 through Canterbury to Central or Nelson holiday regions. Often drivers are tired, it's hot, and they have not been taking sufficient water or rest."

The highest risk crash times in Canterbury last year were between 8am - 4pm on 31 December, 8am- 4pm on New Years day and 29 December from 4pm- midnight.

Canterbury Police will be out and about all through this time, with highly visible patrols on open roads over the Christmas holiday period likely to have a positive impact on enforcing the speed limit. 'Hot' locations, hot days, hot times and likely recidivist offenders will be targeted for enforcement and operations.

"If you see a marked police car you are more likely to slow down; but remember- there are also many unmarked police vehicles out there too. "Because young people are more likely to be injured or killed in these two weeks, particular attention will be given to teenage drivers over the Christmas holiday period, focusing on licence breaches and vehicle defects.

"We want them to be driving safe vehicles which can stand the rigours of their driving and the roads, - and we'll strictly enforce the graduated drivers licenses under the new legislation.

"Slow vehicles that fail to move over to the left side of the road as soon as practical to allow following traffic to pass, can be as much as a problem as fast drivers," says Inspector Stewart.

Some Canterbury figures

Over the last five Xmas/NY periods in Canterbury:

* 32 percent of crashes occurred on State Highways (v 25 percent over the five years 2004 to 2008)

* 7 percent of injury crashes had overseas drivers at fault or part fault (v 4 percent for the five years 2004 to 2008)

* 15 percent of injury crashes featured alcohol as a factor (v 13 percent for the five years 2004 to 2008)

* 16 percent of injury crashes featured speed as a factor (v 14 percent for the five years 2004 to 2008)

* 6 percent of injury crashes featured fatigue as a factor (only slightly higher than 5 percent for the five years 2004 to 2008).

New Zealand figures

25 New Zealanders died in the 12 days of Christmas/ New Year 2008; over 450 are likely to be injured, many seriously.

2004 to 2009 NZ figures show that the average number of people killed over the holiday period is 18 with 436 injured. The number of deaths and serious injuries over the Christmas period in the last ten years has been trending downwards in line with a decreasing road toll. Last year's death toll of 25 people was a noticeable increase from previous years.

Surprisingly there are less minor injury crashes over Christmas; New Zealanders tend to go for the jackpot of fatal and serious injury crashes. There is likely to be, on average, one fatal crash every 18 hours over the Christmas holiday season.

Over NZ, open road crashes increase from 43% of all crashes to 57%.

Analysis of crash causes over the Christmas holiday period indicates an increase in causes that are more commonly associated with open road crashes. The injury crash risk shifts noticeably over the Christmas holiday period away from large urban centres and towards rural Districts.

The fatal crash risk is highest on 27 Dec, followed by 25 Dec and 31 Dec. The injury crash risk is highest on 01 Jan.

Those at greatest risk over the Christmas holidays are the 15 to 19 year olds. It's estimated that this age group will be involved in a quarter of all injury crashes over this time. However less will be killed. The next highest risk group is the 20 to 24 year old group which however, shows a slight decrease in risk over the Christmas holiday period from 17% to 16%.

If you're a bloke, you figure in 81% of fatal and 83% of serious injury crashes over Christmas.


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