April's road death toll lowest since 1965

By Abby Gillies, Kate Shuttleworth

April's road toll was the lowest in nearly 50 years. Photo / File
April's road toll was the lowest in nearly 50 years. Photo / File

A record low number of people died on New Zealand roads last month.

Provisional figures for April show a road toll of 12 deaths, the lowest for any calendar month for any year since 1965, when monthly records started.

The previous lowest monthly figure was 16, in February this year.

Last year, 16 people died in the month of April.

The low figure set a new precedent, said AA motoring affairs manager Mike Noon.

"It's not perfect but it does challenge what is the complacency that we have that these deaths are inevitable."

He believed increased road safety awareness and people behaving more cautiously on our roads, possibly as a result of the changed give way rules, were behind the low toll.

"The naysayers said this (the rule changes) would result in carnage on our roads but in reality what we have seen and has been reported is that motorists are taking extra care at intersections and are being forgiving to others."

Associate Transport Minister Simon Bridges was encouraged by the record low April road toll, but said there is still a need to improve road safety.

"This is an encouraging result but still too many people are being killed and injured on our roads, and it will be little comfort to their families and loved ones," said Mr Bridges.

"Road safety is one of the Government's transport priorities and we will work hard to progress strategies for reducing the rate of death and injury on New Zealand's roads."

The record low April toll comes after New Zealand last year recorded its lowest annual road toll in 50 years and this year's first ever fatality-free Easter holiday period.

Factors that could have led to these reductions include legislation, safety improvements, road policing and economic factors such as fuel prices, said Mr Bridges. Analysis is being carried out to find out whether contributing factors to the 2011 toll can be better identified.

He said government had strengthened driver licence tests and had worked to introduce alcohol interlocks [devices fitted to vehicles] and a zero alcohol limit for repeat drink drivers.

"It's too early to say what this means for the longer term, but I urge all New Zealanders to do what they can to improve road safety and keep the road toll low," said Mr Bridges.

"There are steps we can all take, like using common sense and caution on the roads, driving to the conditions and making safety a priority when purchasing a vehicle," said Mr Bridges.

- APNZ

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