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Published: 2003-02-05 00:00:00

The number of holiday road crashes has dropped dramatically in the Waikato.

This week’s Regional Road Safety Subcommittee heard that the Christmas holiday period from Christmas Eve until January 3 is the busiest in the Waikato as people travel through it to holiday destinations. Last year there were four fatal crashes, resulting in seven deaths, three of them on state highways.

Senior Sergeant Paul Davey said this year the Police mission was to reduce road trauma, targeting speed, drink driving, seat belt use and slow drivers who created frustration for other motorists. The majority of patrols were on state highways and Police were told to breath test all drivers stopped.

This year there was one fatal crash involving a 70 year old woman who failed to negotiate a curve. Results were a vast improvement on the previous year, with 2727 motorists stopped, 1214 notices issued for speed and 729 for other offences. A number of drivers were in the 130 to 145 kph speed with the highest recorded at 149kph. There were 15 injury crashes.

Another 1860 were tested for alcohol and five charged, one driver suspended and 17 vehicles impounded.

At 29 checkpoints for alcohol, 11,999 drivers were stopped, 598 registered using alcohol and 57 were charged of which 15 were repeat offenders. Another 13 drivers were arrested for drug or violence offences, 10 vehicles were impounded and two stolen vehicles located.

Of concern were the number of female drivers testing positive for alcohol, which was increasing dramatically and with higher test results, he said. However the Waikato showed the greatest reduction in offences and had gone from being the most dangerous area in the country to being “averagely dangerous”.

“There is a perception that road offending is not as serious as other types of offending. We need to be more proactive in impounding vehicles as it is a great tool to get people to change their behaviour.

Chairman David Peart said that while an improvement was encouraging, the figures needed to reduce more.

“The social cost is still too high,” he said.