The provisional road toll for 2012 stands at 306.
It is the second lowest on record since 1952. The lowest toll of 284 was recorded in 2011.
In 2012, there were 265 fatal road crashes, which is comparable to 259 in 2011, but the number of fatalities from each crash went up, said Superintendent Carey Griffiths, National Manager of Road Policing.
Fewer drivers – 135 – were killed in 2012 compared to 150 in 2011, but passenger deaths increased from 61 to 80. Motorcycle rider deaths also increased from 33 in 2011 to 44 in 2012, he said.
"While low results are to be celebrated, this is still too many New Zealanders needlessly dying."
Superintendent Griffiths said overall, the road toll is trending downwards, and is a far cry from the 843 deaths of 1973 and 795 of 1987.
"Of particular note is the reduced fatalities in the 15-24 year-old age group last year, which at 65 was significantly lower than 82 in 2011. This is the lowest since records were kept on age groups," he said. "Police and our road safety partners have put a significant focus on young drivers, with an increased driving age and a zero blood alcohol limit. While further analysis is needed on the cause, it’s encouraging to see a correlating reduction in deaths."
Superintendent Griffiths said many factors contributed to a reduced road toll. "Government, Police, New Zealand Transport Authority, Ministry of Transport, ACC and other partners work together as part of a safe systems approach to improve roads and roadsides, reduce speeds, improve driver behaviour and encourage safer vehicles," he said. "We’ve also seen significant advances in trauma care, and we can see how those systems are helping to reduce deaths."
Superintendent Griffiths urged road-users to take particular care over the next few days.
So far there have been five deaths during the official holiday period, which ends at 6am on 3 January.
“In 2011, 19 people lost their lives over the holiday break," he said. "It’s particularly important drivers stick to speed limits, every occupant wears a seatbelt and we make good choices about who is driving us home."
He said the whole community has a role to play. "We still see too many deaths where passengers get into cars with drunk drivers, particularly in our rural communities.
"We have to stop tolerating this as these people are killing not only themselves, but other innocent road users. If you’re going out socialising, look after your mates, make transport arrangements early and have a designated driver."
The highest holiday road toll was 35 in 1981/82, and the lowest was 9 in 2006/07.
For more details on figures, please see http://www.transport.govt.nz
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