Easter road deaths 'shouldn't be tolerated'

By Abby Gillies

The toll is the second lowest Easter road toll on record, also achieved in 1998, 2002 and 2003. Photo / File / David Rowland
The toll is the second lowest Easter road toll on record, also achieved in 1998, 2002 and 2003. Photo / File / David Rowland

The official Easter holiday period ended at 6am today with three deaths too many, according to the country's top traffic officer.

The three deaths, of two men and one woman, was a tragic outcome, and a contrast to Easter last year when no one died, said National Road Policing Manager Superintendent Carey Griffiths.

"Three fatalities is always three too many. We tend to think of it as a number, but each number has a face, a name and a family. We seem to accept it, but it shouldn't be tolerated," he said.

The toll is the second lowest Easter road toll on record, also achieved in 1998, 2002 and 2003.

Last year's Easter road toll was zero but over the past five Easter periods there have been an average of six road deaths.

While most drivers were well behaved, police were disappointed with the behaviour of a number of drivers in the central district caught speeding while returning from the long weekend, Mr Griffiths said.

Overall, the road toll trend was declining, with last month the lowest number of fatalities for March on record at 20.

The previous record low was 25 deaths in March 2011.

Police remain focused on a number of factors regarding improving road safety.

The "fatal five" were speed, alcohol, failing to wear restraints, dangerous and careless driving and high risk drivers, which were consistent themes, said Mr Griffiths.

While New Zealanders understood the risks of high speeds, but there was a lack of understanding of the risks of low level speeding.

"Every kilometre you go over a speed limit can increase your risk of casualty crash involvement. When everybody does it it's really, really significant."

Police wanted to change driver behaviour by making people more aware of the risks, which was part of an approach that includes, safer vehicles, safer drivers, safer speed and safer roads and roadsides, said Mr Griffiths.

Only two hours into the Easter road toll period, Temuka man Stephen Kirkcaldie, 55, died when his bicycle and a car collided.

At 2am on Saturday, Antony King, 53, from Paraparaumu was killed when the Suzuki vehicle he was in and another car collided on State Highway 5 at Wairakei, north of Taupo.

Hannah Eaton, 25, was killed when her car and an SUV collided at Puriri, south of Thames, at 9.20pm the same day.

She was married to former Hurricane and Magpies' rugby player Chris Eaton.

The holiday period started at 4pm on Thursday and ended at 6am today.

- APNZ

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