Deaths prompt driving plea

Northland police are urging motorists to prevent more deaths on the region's roads by driving safely into the Christmas season, after a horror run of fatalities.

Nine people have died on Northland's roads in the past three months, including two in two days last Friday and Saturday, bringing the region's road toll to 16 - more than double last year's figure.

Northland road policing manager Inspector Murray Hodson said speed, fatigue, inattention, alcohol and failure to use seatbelts were common factors in the crashes and driver behaviour needed to change to ensure the tragedies of the past three months weren't repeated.

"If you are tired pull over and have a break. A nap of up to 40 minutes will make all the difference or ask someone else to take over the driving. It is better to reach your destination late than never."

Mr Hodson said the public should expect to see police carrying out breath testing at all times of the day and night along random checkpoints.

"We want to keep drunk drivers off the road," he said.

The public could also help by reporting bad driver behaviour, he said.

"Police want to see everyone have a safe and happy holiday period and we all need to work together to make sure that happens."

Seven people, including five motorcyclists, died last weekend on North Island roads, while more than a dozen people were injured.

The carnage brought the road toll for the year-to-date to 275 - up from 256 at the same time last year - and just nine shy of 2011's 50-year low.

Last year's road toll was the lowest in over 50 years, with 284 people killed, compared with 375 in 2010, 384 in 2009 and 366 in 2008. The last time the road toll was below 300 before that was in 1952, when 272 people died.

National road policing manager Superintendent Carey Griffiths said motorcyclists needed to use extreme caution when riding in larger groups, to avoid more tragedies. "It's just common sense. The message from me, as a fellow motorcyclist is - give yourself plenty of room - by all means, ride in a group, but just leave lots of spacing."

The "two big things" needed to keep the road toll down were common sense and being polite, Mr Griffiths said.

Road toll (year-to-date):

Northland's toll: 16

  • Cyclists: 2

  • Drivers : 5

  • Motorcyclists: 2

  • Passengers: 7

- Northern Advocate

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