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Published: 2004-05-05 00:00:00

The number of Asian drivers featuring in Waikato fatal crash statistics has increased noticeably in recent years, the Regional Road Safety Subcommittee heard this week.

Police Inspector Leo Tooman said the number of Asian drivers involved in fatal crashes had risen from a three percent average over the past five years to 10 percent last year, which was a real concern.

He said Asian drivers were over-represented and their numbers were climbing rapidly. When questioned, drivers said they wanted to drive sports cars and BMWs, which are 10 times cheaper in New Zealand than at home.

While Maori traffic offending had risen in the last couple of years, it was trending slightly downwards overall. However, Maori women over 30 represented 48 percent of all drivers processed for drink driving, he said.

Pedestrians had increased from 5.3 percent to 10.2 percent of those responsible for fatal crashes. The unemployed were still the highest occupational group causing fatal crashes and those driving vehicles over 10 years old accounted for 42.8 percent of all fatal crashes.

Inspector Tooman said about 80 to 90 people used to be killed in the Waikato every year, but that figure was now down to about 50. The number of crashes over weekends dropped last year, and the number of crashes between 9am and midday had dropped while afternoon crashes had increased.

While crashes on state highways and arterial routes had dropped, crashes in urban areas had increased from 8 percent of 20.4 percent.

He said the number of head-on crashes had halved, while intersection crashes, roll-overs and vehicles hitting pedestrians had increased. Drugs were now an increasing factor in fatal crashes – from 4.8 percent average over the past five years to 16.3 percent last year. Drug use recognition was being increased for police.