Morgan Tait is the NZ Herald's police reporter.

Maori, Pacific kids at risk on roads: study

Our youngest and most deprived are most at risk. Photo / Christine Cornege
Our youngest and most deprived are most at risk. Photo / Christine Cornege

Maori and Pacific Island children are more likely to be injured in a crash on Auckland roads than anyone else, research reveals.

The research will be used to rethink and redesign road safety policies in the region after its findings included that Maori children are 65 per cent more likely to be killed or hurt on our roads than children of other ethnicities.

The report, commissioned by Auckland Transport and released today, maps the most dangerous areas - and it shows our youngest and most deprived are most at risk.

It calls for a series of changes including:

• More traffic calming measures
• Safer walking and cycling routes
• Giving priority to road safety education at schools in high need areas
• Including more road safety instruction in Government-funded programmes such as Whanau Ora.

Results of the research, done by the University of Auckland, came as no surprise to Safekids New Zealand director Ann Weaver.

"That wasn't news to Safekids because we have been looking at the data for quite some time and understood where risk areas were."

She hoped the report would now be used to help obtain money to increase safety for those at risk.

"We are hoping it will provide an opportunity for extra resource going into the infrastructure to help make roads better for children."

The report - which analysed crash deaths, hospital admissions and injuries between 2000 and 2008 - found rural Aucklanders and those living in low socio-economic areas were also at greater risk, while Asians were safest on local roads.

Pacific Island children were 31 per cent more likely than other ethnicities to be killed or injured on the roads.

University of Auckland researcher Dr Jamie Hosking said the report highlighted what needed to be done to reduce inequality among those injured.

"One is to use this information about which of the groups and communities are most in need of road safety efforts to make sure that the necessary measures are reaching those communities.

"Now we have strong evidence on that, I think it is a strong basis for giving those groups extra priority in road safety efforts."

It was unclear why those identified were more at risk, but anecdotal evidence suggested it was because children in lower socio-economic areas were more likely to walk to school in unsafe environments. Ms Weaver said: "Most children in Auckland tend to be driven to school and we know that Pacific children in those high deprivation areas tend to walk more."

Dr Hosking said that in rural areas, high-speed roads, poorer road surfaces and longer travelling times were probable causes of crashes.

Auckland Transport chairman Dr Lester Levy said the research would be used to target those at risk. "This research shows how we could better target particular communities who have a higher risk of injury," he said.

"This is a more proactive response to improving road safety, and we are already using the research to help prioritise our road safety engineering and education efforts with an increased focus in urban south and rural schools."

Maori, Pacific kids at risk on roads: study

- NZ Herald

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