Record result with lowest deaths

By Brendan Manning

Four people have died in three Western Bay road crashes this year - a year-to-date road toll record low.

At the same time last year, seven people had died in six fatal crashes.

Police say a dedicated Highway Patrol Unit in the Western Bay of Plenty and zero-tolerance alcohol policy for young drivers are behind this year's result.

Most recent was the crash in Te Puna last Thursday which killed 55-year-old Katikati man Christopher David Harvey.

Prior to last week's crash, there had been no fatal accidents in the Western Bay for five months and eight days - the second-longest period in the last 10 years.

Road policing manager Senior Sergeant Ian Campion told the Bay of Plenty Times hard work by police, other local road safety partners and better road engineering were all responsible for saving lives.

''A lot of the road safety partners are engaged in education also, some of the success can be attributed to the traffic alcohol group who regularly target alcohol-related driving.

''Every driver stopped is breath tested,'' Mr Campion said.

Mr Campion urged drivers to remain cautious.

''We've got spring under way and the holiday season approaching so please continue to take extreme caution on our roads. Please take care, particularly on SH2 north of Bethlehem . . . drive sensibly, drive defensively.''

Tauranga City Council transport operations manager Martin Parkes said the council had been working alongside police and other agencies to reduce the number of crashes.

''Tauranga city has not had any fatal crashes this calendar year so that's a very pleasing figure. We've also seen the number of crashes decline which is also pleasing,'' Mr Parkes said.

The council has been keeping an eye on the crash statistics to make sure the roading projects being carried out are in the most beneficial place, he said.

Speed limits were also reviewed yearly.

''We've been reducing speed limits over the last couple of years to improve road safety.''

The council has also been improving road surfacing and signage.

In the year to date, 195 people have died on New Zealand roads- one more than at the same time last September. Most of the deaths were motorists aged over 60.

But a top road policing officer says getting older drivers to hand in their keys is proving problematic.

Waikato has recorded the most road deaths so far this year with 36, closely followed by Auckland. Nelson/Marlborough has had the fewest deaths, with three.

Acting national road policing manager Rob Morgan said the number of fatal crashes was actually trending down, but there had been more ''fatal multiples'', in which several people had died in a single crash.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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