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Published: 2002-02-07 00:00:00

A total of 88 people can expect to die on Waikato roads this year – and that’s more than died last year, according to the Land Transport Safety Authority.

This week’s Environment Waikato Regional Road Safety Subcommittee heard that 83 people died on Waikato roads last year, 17 less than predicted, and fewer than the 101 in 2000.

Once again, the highest numbers of fatal crashes happened in the Waikato District, Taupo, South Waikato and Franklin Districts. Drivers were most often killed (41), and the number of motorcyclists dying increased markedly to seven. Thirty passengers died, along with three pedestrians, a cyclist, and a motorcycle passenger.

The number of 25 to 39 year olds killed dropped, but there was a dramatic increase in the number of 15 to 19 year olds killed. December was the worst month, when 15 deaths were recorded, four on New Year’s Eve.

Police representative Leo Tooman said the lower number of deaths was a credit to the work of road safety agencies in the Region, but if nothing different was done 88 people would die on the roads this year.

Chairman David Peart said it was a sad commentary when 83 deaths was regarded as a good year, when the effects of each death on families was devastating.

Inspector Tooman said the new highway patrols operating in the area were making substantial savings in preventing crashes. Over four years, 67 people had died in the police district each year, but this year 53 had died – a saving of 21 percent.

Head on crashes had dropped 36 percent and there were savings in the number of crashes on state highways, and a major saving of 56 percent in heavy vehicle crashes.

“If we can keep speeds down, belts on and leave the booze alone we can do even better. We could have saved another four deaths with safe tyres and four more by using seat belts.”

Inspector Tooman said alcohol was a significant crash factor for unemployed people who were over represented in drink driving statistics.