Police Minister Stuart Nash is urging motorists to be responsible when they get behind the wheel after the worst annual road toll for nine years in 2018 saw 380 people die in vehicle accidents.
The provisional number of road deaths for 2018 has exceeded the annual toll for 2017, when 378 people lost their lives. It's the worst annual figure since 2009, when 384 people were killed.
"There are far too many families who are missing a loved one these holidays after road accidents this year. It is devastating to know that many of these deaths were preventable," Mr Nash said today.
Road deaths as a proportion of the population and in comparison to the number of cars on the road has halved in the past 20 years, but we can do much better, he said.
The main contributing factors are speed, failure to wear a seatbelt, distraction such as using a cellphone, and impairment from drugs, alcohol, or fatigue, the Minister said.
"Police remain out on the roads working hard to keep everyone safe. But they can’t do it alone - we all need to be responsible every time we get behind the wheel," he said.
The Government has increased the number of frontline police officers, including dedicated road policing teams, Mr Nash said.
"When we took office we were short of 111 dedicated road policing officers. By July 2018, all of those vacancies were filled. Police now have 1070 dedicated road policing staff. All other frontline Police are also expected to enforce road safety laws."
With the summer holidays in full swing, Mr Nash said he encourages everyone to remain patient, courteous, and pay attention behind the wheel to ensure they and their loved ones get where they're going safe and well.
The official holiday period runs from 4pm on Monday 24 December 2018 to 6am on Thursday 3 January 2019. The number of deaths so far stands at eight, compared with 12 during the 2017/18 holiday period.
The provisional figures for the 2018 year show fatalities are made up of the following demographics:
• 49 per cent were the driver of the vehicle and 24 per cent were passengers
• 14 per cent were motorbike riders or pillion passengers
• 11 per cent were pedestrians
• Just over one per cent were cyclists
• 66 per cent were male and 34 per cent were female
• 28 per cent were in the sixty-plus age group
• 14 per cent were children or teenagers
• 13 per cent were aged between 20 and 24 years
• 48 per cent died in crashes on the open road on state highways
• The region with the largest share of fatalities was Waikato at 17 per cent; followed by Auckland and Canterbury with 14 per cent each; and Manawatu/Whanganui on 12 per cent