10 Oct 2017

Road toll rises to 10 after lethal weekend

11:56 am on 10 October 2017

An elderly man is the latest victim to have died in a fatal crash after a lethal weekend on New Zealand's roads.

The man died today after a car crashed into a tree in the grounds of Auckland's North Shore Hospital.

Police say the man was given CPR without success at the scene, on Shea Terrace.

The serious crash unit is investigating.

Police are now pleading with drivers to take more responsibility.

Road crashes imposed intangible, financial and economic costs to society, said the report.

Police said every time people get behind the wheel they hold others' lives in their hands. (file photo) Photo: 123RF

Police earlier said nine people died between Friday and the early hours of this morning, bringing the road toll to 292 for 2017, up 41 on the same time last year.

At least 10 others have been injured or seriously injured.

Assistant Commissioner road policing Sandra Venables said this weekend's fatalities would have left families devastated.

"Every death is reported as a number, but each number has a face, a name and a family. They leave behind loved ones whose lives have been changed forever.

"Those that have been seriously injured can face months if not years of rehabilitation and treatment.

"We cannot continue to tolerate the loss.

"Police are committed to reducing death and injury on our roads and our staff are out there every day targeting unsafe drivers."

Flower were left at the roadside where an unladen logging truck hit the car the men were travelling in.

(File photo) Photo: RNZ / Tom Furley

However, she said, police could only do so much.

"Every time you get behind the wheel you hold your life and the lives of your passengers and your fellow road users in your hands.

"Please take this responsibility seriously - wear your seat belt, make sure your passengers are wearing seatbelts, watch your speed and drive to the conditions."

Road deaths have come down from 843 in 1973 to an average of 331 a year for the past decade, but have been climbing again since 2013.

Nine road deaths since Friday

  • Friday: The driver of a truck died in Whakatāne when their vehicle collided with a train on a level crossing on the Lambert Road SH4 intersection
  • Saturday: A 20-year-old Hamilton man died in a crash on SH1 at Tamahere in the Waikato
  • Sunday: Two people died in a crash north of Te Kuiti on SH3
  • Sunday night: Three people died in a two-car crash on SH6 south of Winton in Southland. A baby and a toddler survived the crash, police said, and were taken to hospital in Invercargill with minor and moderate injuries respectively
  • This morning: A driver died shortly before 6am on Bairds Road after hitting a tree while being chased by the police in Ōtara, South Auckland. Two women were taken to Middlemore Hospital, one in a serious condition
  • Also this morning: A motorcyclist died in a crash in Motueka, northwest of Nelson, at the intersection of Thorp Street and Glenaven Drive just before 6am. The crash also left the driver of a car with head injuries, though police said the driver's condition was not thought to be serious
National manager road policing, Superintendent Steve Greally.

Steve Greally Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

Police national road policing manager Steve Greally said it was a trend - not just a spike.

"I think it's worse than a spike. A spike in my view is probably just a one off, then you resume back to previous patterns. But I think no we're going up and that's more than just a spike."

Superintendent Greally said New Zealand was not alone - Australia, the UK, Europe and the US were seeing similar statistics.

"Speed kills in about 30 percent of all deaths on our roads.

"We know our highways have a lot of danger around them too, we've got some speed limits that are too high for the engineering of the roads.

"And we know that a lot of work's been done by the Transport Agency in relation to the speed management guide."

Superintendent Greally said the other key issue was seatbelts.

"The number of people that have died not wearing a seatbelt have pretty much doubled in the last two years. Now that's alarming in its own right.

"Surely people understand the risks around not wearing a seatbelt."

New Zealand Transport Agency's road safety director Harry Wilson said road deaths have risen steadily since 253 people died in 2013.

"There's definitely a trend up but equally there are more people driving. The amount of kilometres that people are driving in their cars has risen by about 10 percent, 15 percent.

"On the network there's more trucks."

He reiterated the need to keep an eye on the road, to slow down, and to buckle up.

Automobile Association spokesperson Barnie Irvine said spikes overseas were showing signs of easing, but that was not happening here.

"We're on track now for another year that's even worse than the last couple. So things are continuing to head in the wrong direction."

The director of the road safety charity Brake New Zealand, Caroline Perry, said this year's road-death tally included 31 pedestrians and 15 cyclists, up from 21 and four respectively last year.

She agreed more needed to be done.

"Because every death on the road is a tragedy and devastating for a family and crashes are preventable so we shouldn't accept that any road deaths happens on our roads.

"We should be working towards zero road deaths."

Ms Perry said getting there would involve installing more barriers to prevent head-on crashes and to separate those on foot and bikes from traffic.

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