High-risk drivers cause third of crashes - report

The report found high-risk drivers were at fault in 35 per cent of crashes between 2005 and 2009. File photo / APN
The report found high-risk drivers were at fault in 35 per cent of crashes between 2005 and 2009. File photo / APN

One in three road deaths are caused by speeding, young and repeat drunk drivers, according to a new report released by Transport Minister Steven Joyce.

The Ministry of Transport report shows that between 2005 and 2009 642 people were killed in crashes where high-risk drivers were at fault.

The report defines high-risk drivers as unlicensed and disqualified drivers, those with previous speed and alcohol offences, or those who drive over the legal alcohol limit, evade enforcement or take part in illegal street racing.

Those drivers were at fault in 35 per cent of fatal crashes, the research shows.

Drivers under 30 were the highest contributors to the high-risk group, causing more than 52 per cent of fatal crashes.

Almost half of the high-risk drivers aged 15 to 19 had driven outside the rules of their licence. Another 14 per cent were also driving over the legal blood-alcohol limit.

"The Government is taking steps to crack down on these drivers to ensure their reckless actions don't put the rest of us at risk," Mr Joyce said

The minister also released an addition to the report showing that when at-fault young drivers who were not already classified as high risk were added to high-risk drivers, together they comprised 53 per cent of at-fault drivers in fatal crashes and 48 per cent of at-fault drivers in fatal and serious injury crashes.

"These two groups together cause about half of the deaths and serious injuries on our roads," Mr Joyce said.

He said the Government was introducing initiatives to help reduce the impact of high-risk drivers and young drivers, as part of its Safer Journeys road safety strategy.

These included a zero drink drive limit for young drivers and repeat drink drivers; raising the driving age; tougher licensing tests for new drivers; tougher penalties for repeat drink drivers; and doubling the prison penalties for dangerous drivers who cause death.

The figures in the report showed that deaths and injuries on the roads could be reduced by targeting these groups, Mr Joyce added.

The Ministry of Transport was also investigating the potential for vehicle power restrictions for young drivers.

Last year, the Government also improved police powers to tackle illegal street racing and the anti-social use of vehicles.

The report comes after three people were killed and two critically injured in a crash involving teenagers north of Tauranga on Friday night.

- NZPA

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