Road toll soars to 23

  • 19/01/2016

This January is shaping up to be the deadliest on New Zealand roads in four years and the police are not happy about it.

Traffic bosses have issued a plea for drivers to buckle up and slow down as the country's 2016 road toll soars to 23 - nine more than at the same time last year.

The toll includes 13 drivers, five passengers, four motorcyclists and one pedestrian.

One child and three teenagers were among those killed.

The grim statistic also surpasses the full January toll for 2014, which reached just 19, and 2013, which hit 18.

It is only beaten by 2012's dire January toll of 35.

Acting national manager of road policing, Inspector Peter McKennie, said 23 deaths on the road represents a terrible burden of grief and suffering.

"So many fatal crashes could be avoided if motorists made the smart decisions which allow them, their passengers and other road users to reach their destinations safely," Insp McKennie said.

Typical factors were at fault; speed, fatigue, alcohol, distraction and lack of restraints.

He urged motorists to stay sharp by avoiding alcohol before driving and taking rest breaks to avoid fatigue.

"It is the driver's responsibility to ensure passengers are properly restrained and to always drive to the conditions," the officer said.

While the deadliest period of the month, the summer holidays, was over, drivers should remain vigilant as they return to work.

Enforcement of the reduced 4km/h speeding threshold continues until the end of January and police are still out in force on the roads, Insp McKennie said.