Fixing road toll a 'major priority' - Genter

The Government says making New Zealand a safer place to travel will be a "major priority" after a disastrous 2017 on the roads.

Three-hundred and eighty lost their lives last year, up from 327 the year before and 253 in 2013.

Of those who died in 2017:

  • slightly more than half - 195 - were drivers
  • 82 were passengers
  • 45 were on a motorbike
  • 40 were pedestrians
  • and 18 were on a pushbike.

"It is simply shocking to see so many people die on our roads," said Associate Transport Minister Julie Anne Genter.

"We know every one of these deaths has left a huge hole in the lives of family and friends."

She said safety levels on "many rural roads and even urban streets simply isn't good enough".

"People make mistakes, but on too many of our roads a momentary distraction or taking a corner too fast can be fatal."

The Government has already announced a $22.5 billion boost to fix risky rural roads, and Ms Genter says it's just the "beginning".

"In 2018 the Government will look at how it can increase and prioritise funding for road safety improvements across the country.

 "I also intend to hold a road safety summit early this year so I can hear directly from councils about opportunities for improving road safety."

2017's shocking toll is the highest since 2009, when 384 lost their lives. One person has died so far on the roads in 2018 - a 69-year-old man.

The AA says in addition to 380 deaths, around 14,000 people would have been hurt in crashes. Spokesman Dylan Thomsen says fixing the country's roads won't fix the problem on its own.

"Engineering upgrades play an important part in road safety but we also need drivers to make safe choices every time they're behind the wheel.

"If you are going too fast for the conditions, following too close, or not paying full attention to your driving then you may not react in time if something unexpected happens."

Mr Thomsen said the four-year rise in fatalities is "hard to understand", but could be down to rising numbers of cars on the road and busier traffic.

More road toll statistics from 2017

Age of victims

  • 0-14 - 13
  • 15-19 - 28
  • 20-24 - 50
  • 25-39 - 103
  • 40-59 - 93
  • 60-plus - 91
  • Unknown - 2

Worst months

  1. December - 39
  2. July - 37
  3. January, March, April, June and October - 32

Worst regions

  1. Auckland - 64
  2. Waikato - 62
  3. Canterbury - 55
  4. Northland - 41
  5. Manawatu/Whanganui - 32