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Published: 2017-12-04 12:40:00

Waikato’s multiagency regional transport committee has today issued a plea to motorists to take extra care on the roads with the Christmas holiday period almost upon us.

The plea comes as the NZ Police launch their We want you here for Christmas national road policing operation aligned with a joint Police-NZ Transport Agency social media campaign.

At the committee’s final meeting for 2017, road policing manager Inspector Marcus Lynam said the aim for Waikato district police was to prevent deaths and serious injuries by focusing on four factors – going too fast for the conditions, seatbelts, impairments and distractions.

“The majority of fatal and injury crashes are normal people making mistakes,” Insp Lynam said.

“Last year hospitalisations in the Waikato rose by 45 per cent. We know that less speed means less harm,” he told the committee. 

“Impaired driving continues to kill and seriously injure on our roads, with 24 per cent of all fatal crashes involving drivers under the influence of alcohol.

“Of course, every year there are people who would have survived a crash if they’d been wearing a seatbelt.

“We prevent crashes by enforcing the laws that relate to driving behaviours that kill and injure people. It’s not about issuing more tickets. It’s about visibility and working with our partners to change driver behaviour,” Insp Lynam said.

In the year to date 57 people have been killed and an estimated 270 have been seriously injured in the Waikato region. The social cost of reported road crashes in the region for the 10 years to 2015 was about $500 million per year along with intangible, financial, economic and community costs.

Waikato regional councillor and committee chair Hugh Vercoe said, “While Waikato is bucking the national road toll trend this year, this is not a time for complacency.

“We’ve had a number of multi-fatality crashes this year and our region is grossly over-represented for death and serious injury crashes, with around 20 per cent of national casualties for just 9 per cent of the population.

“We have challenging roads, they’re not all the same and the speed limit isn’t always right due to the conditions. We know what we need to do – slow down, buckle up, don’t drink and drive – so we can all enjoy a great Christmas and New Year,” Cr Vercoe said.

NZ Transport Agency Safety and Environment Director Harry Wilson said in a crash, speed is the single biggest determinant in whether anyone is killed, injured, or walks away unharmed. A small change in speed makes a big difference to the seriousness of injuries.

“We want everybody to actively take responsibility on our roads.

“Police will be out there on the roads in the areas they know are of greatest risk. They are incredibly passionate about what they do, trying to keep all road users safe, but police can’t be everywhere, and we’re urging everyone to take responsibility for safety and do their part. That means driving to the conditions, free from distractions and impairment, and properly restrained,” Mr Wilson said.

Between 2015 and 2018 $3.2 billion is being invested in road safety nationally. That’s an increase in investment of $550 million compared to 2012-15.

The Transport Agency is committed to improving safety across all four parts of the Safe System – roads and roadsides, speeds, road use, and vehicles.