2018 provisional road toll 380, worst in nine years

By Jessica Tyson
Taranaki crash when six people died in June. Source: Māori TV

A total of 380 people died in vehicle accidents in New Zealand in 2018, according to the provisional number of road deaths released today.

It is the worst annual figure in nine years, when 384 were killed, says police minister Stuart Nash.

“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,” he says.

“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 region with the largest share of fatalities was Waikato at 17 percent; followed by Auckland and Canterbury with 14 percent each; and Manawatu/Whanganui on 12 percent.

One of the accidents occurred in June when six people died after a head-one crash in Taranaki. Five of those people were adults and a newborn baby, police said.

Last week on Christmas day 17-year-old Felix Peter Newton died after a vehicle plunged from a bridge into the Whanganui River.

Whanganui crash. Source: Māori TV

Improvements to be made

Associate Minister of transport Julie Anne Genter says it is another reminder of the need to make substantial improvements to road safety in New Zealand.

“The Government is investing $1.4 billion over three years to make urgent safety improvements across our high-risk roads. On high volume state highways, New Zealanders can expect to see more improvements like life-saving median and side barriers and crash-preventing rumble strips.”

Nash says police enforcement and visibility on roads also needs investment.

“We have increased the number of frontline police officers, including dedicated road policing teams. When we took office we were short of 111 dedicated road policing officers, he says.

“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.”

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. During the 2017/18 holiday period there were 12 deaths.