Basic mistakes behind high road death toll - police

Taupo, Crash
Four people died in a crash near Taupō last month. Photo credit: Newshub

This year's high road death toll is being fuelled by drivers not following basic rules behind the wheel, police say.

The number of fatalities related to those not wearing seatbelts has doubled since 2014, and national road policing manager Superintendent Steve Greally says that's not good enough.

"They're such basic mistakes some people are making.

"Each time you get in the car just stop, even just for a couple seconds, and think to yourself, 'I'm going make sure I'm as safe as I can possibly be.

"'I'm not going to drive drunk. I am going to put my belt on. My kids will have their belts on. We won't be speeding. We're not going to take unnecessary risks.'"

He warns drivers need to be careful and be aware, especially coming into the summer months when more cars will be on our roads. Sometimes it's completely innocent parties who pay the ultimate price, he says.

"I don't know what it means to some people when you get your driver licence, but it's certainly not a licence to be an idiot on our roads."

Christchurch, Crash
A bus and car collided in Akaroa near Christchurch earlier this year. Photo credit: Newshub

Information from the Ministry of Transport shows the road death toll has been increasing every year since 2013, and in 2016 more than 31 percent of all fatalities were passengers or pedestrians.

The road death toll currently stands at 323 in 2017 after five people were killed in four separate car crashes across New Zealand over the weekend.

Road death tolls per year:

  • 2017 323*
  • 2016 328
  • 2015 319
  • 2014 293
  • 2013 253
  • 2012 308
  • 2011 284
  • 2010 375
  • 2009 384
  • 2008 366
Crash, Ti Rakau
In 2016, 52 motorcyclists died on New Zealand roads. Photo credit: Newshub

On average more than seven people have died on New Zealand roads every week this year, and if that trends continues it could be the worst year in a decade.

Death toll 'absolutely tragic' - AA

The Automobile Association (AA) has reiterated the need for basic rules to be followed by drivers when getting behind the wheel.

Simple ways everyone can reduce chances of being hurt:

  • Make sure everyone in a vehicle wears a seatbelt
  • Keep at least a two-second following distance
  • Turn your headlights on during the day so your vehicle is harder to miss seeing
  • Drive at a safe speed for the conditions
  • Fully focus on your driving. If you are tempted by your phone or other distractions, put them somewhere you can't get to before you start driving.
Auckland, Crash
Crashes can be frequent on Auckland's motorways. Photo credit: Supplied

"Everyone involved in road safety wants the number of people who die and are injured to be falling, but at the moment things are going the wrong way and we have to find ways to turn that around," an AA spokesperson says.

"Unfortunately, there is no one action that will put a stop to crashes, but the AA wants the new Government to make several changes that we think would have the biggest impact on road safety. 

"Top of the list is needing to try and find ways to reach the small group of people not wearing seatbelts. 

"Alcohol and drugs continue to feature highly in crashes, and the AA wants all repeat drink drivers to have alcohol interlocks installed [in-car breathalysers], as well as the police to be able to do roadside drug testing like we do for alcohol."

Road deaths are 'not inevitable' - road safety charity

Brake NZ development director Caroline Perry told The AM Show no road death is acceptable.

The response came after show host Duncan Garner questioned whether we have to accept that people will die on New Zealand roads.

"No, absolutely not," Ms Perry says.

"No road death on our road is acceptable and they're not inevitable; we know that they are preventable."

She says the Government should make good on its promise made pre-election for a vision-zero approach to transport safety.