MARTIN DE RUYTER/STUFF
The horrific death toll on New Zealand’s roads in 2017 looks set to continue in 2018 after two people died in separate crashes less than 24 hours into the new year.
The holiday season claimed its twelfth victim after one person died in a collision between a motorbike and ute in Masterton about 5.30pm on Monday.
A 69-year-old Tauranga man was also killed on Monday in a two-car collision at the Maungatapu Bridge on State Highway 29A at 2.15am. The official holiday period ended at 6am on Wednesday.
MARTIN DE RUYTER/STUFF
Police have repeatedly urged motorists to take extra care and tired officers have said they are fed up with the “disappointing” behaviour of drivers.
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* Associate Transport Minister promises greater road safety focus
* AA calls for upgrade of country’s most dangerous roads
* New Zealand’s road toll worst in years
* Another day of fatal car crashes on NZ roads
Marlborough road policing team leader Barrie Greenall said the number of traffic complaints in his region alone had sky-rocketed since Christmas.
“Initially drivers were sensible, driving to the conditions and driving patiently and that deteriorated to the state that we had multiple traffic complaints.”
Greenall said drivers were displaying poor behaviour and impatience on the roads, particularly around Kaikōura.
“The other behaviour elsewhere, north and south of Kaikōura had not been as good and quite frankly disappointing.”
Police are also continuing to investigate a high-speed crash on New Year’s Eve that killed a young man and pushed the 2017 road toll up to 380 – the highest since 2009 when 384 people died.
The collision left debris across the Appleby Highway near Nelson, including children’s belongings spread down the road.
Nelson Fire and Emergency NZ senior station officer Craig Davies said it was a “horrendous” scene.
“There was at least 100 metres of debris, a lot of children’s gear, bikes, and bits and pieces.
“It wasn’t the sort of thing that any emergency services want to see on a New Year’s Eve.”
The crash, involving a ute and a car, happened about 9pm on Sunday on a 100kmh stretch of road between Bartlett Rd and Blackbyre Rd.
The five people in the car, including two children, were taken to hospital with minor to moderate injuries. A young man in the ute died at the scene.
Senior Sergeant Blair Hall said police were still investigating and would determine whether any charges would be laid.
“It was a high-speed crash, which spread debris over a considerable area.
“It’s particularly difficult when police have to advise family of a death on New Year’s Eve.”
AA motoring affairs general manager Mike Noon said New Zealanders needed to be more aware of what they could do to reduce the chances of being involved in a serious crash.
Investment in road infrastructure was also enormously important, he said.
“There is a lot of work that can be done to . . . [improve roads] and if we do that we know that we can half the fatalities and serious injuries.”
AA researched 100 road fatalities from 2017 and found the drivers in nearly half of them (48 per cent) had not been doing anything extreme.
“These are good kiwis who are making mistakes,” Noon said.
More than 100 people who died in 2017 crashes were not wearing seat belts. Noon said about half of those people would still be alive if they were wearing the proper restraints.
This year’s road toll was likely to be just as bad unless driver attitudes changed, he said.
“I sincerely hope that 2018 sees a reversal of the trend that we have seen in the last few years . . . [and] we can start again to make gains as we did in the previous decade.”
Fifty-five people lost their lives in crashes on Canterbury roads last year, the highest road toll since 2007 when 56 people died. In 2016, 28 people were killed on the region’s roads.