Police warning as traffic heads south

By Kristin Edge

The death of an 81-year-old woman has marred Northland's holiday road toll and has police warning drivers to be patient as thousands of motorists head out of the region this weekend.

Whangarei woman Elizabeth Millar was a front-seat passenger in a car that collided with another on State Highway 1, at the intersection with Whananaki South Rd, on New Year's Eve. Three people from the crash were taken to hospital but Mrs Millar died on Wednesday.

The death brought the national Christmas and New Year holiday road toll to six and takes Northland's road toll for 2012 to 18.

In 2011, there was a record low number of road fatalities for the year with seven deaths.

Northland top traffic cop Inspector Murray Hodson is sending out a strong message to motorists as police teams prepared for a surge of motorists on the roads today.

"Police will yet again be out in force and will be highly visible, focusing on the fatal five - alcohol, speed, restraints, fatigue and inattention."

Officers would also be rigorously enforcing the 4km/h speed tolerance.

"Overtaking one or two vehicles isn't going to make a major difference in the time it takes to get to your destination. Demonstrate a bit of patience."

Mr Hodson urged motorists to dob in others not adhering to safe road rules by using the *555 number.

"At the end of the day, crash and crime incidents require public information and the help from the community makes the most amount of difference," he said.

"We will endeavour to catch drivers at the time but if we don't we will catch up with them eventually."

While the number of fatalities in the region last year was disappointing, Mr Hodson said it was well below the average number of deaths for the past five years. "My intent this year is that there are fewer victims - both serious injuries or fatalities - on our roads. That means less requirement for my staff to inform loved ones of crashes."

The provisional road toll nationally for 2012 stands at 306, the second lowest on record since 1952. The lowest toll of 284 was recorded in 2011.

National Manager of Road Policing Superintendent Carey Griffiths There were 265 fatal road crashes, comparable to 259 in 2011. But the number of fatalities from each crash went up.

He said the whole community has a role to play in reducing the road trauma.

"We still see too many deaths where passengers get into cars with drunk drivers, particularly in our rural communities.

"We have to stop tolerating this as these people are killing not only themselves, but other innocent road users. If you're going out socialising, look after your mates, make transport arrangements early and have a designated driver."

- Northern Advocate

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