Four road deaths in 2012 still too many for police

By Gary Hamilton-Irvine

Four people died on Rotorua roads in 2012, a statistic which will remain in the lives of the victims' families for some time, according to one local mother.

Rotorua's Sonia Wilson said after four years it was still difficult to move forward from the death of her daughter.

"For some members of [our] family it is very hard to move forward. It is still very difficult and it will be for some time."

Her daughter, Whittney Robertson, died in 2009 when a repeat drink-driver crashed into the car she was travelling in near Atiamuri.

At least one fatal crash in 2012 was alcohol related and Mrs Wilson said it simply wasn't worth driving drunk, the cost was far too high.

"My message is for those people who are out, and see others drinking, that they be a responsible person and help them get home safe."

Bay of Plenty district road policing manager Inspector Kevin Taylor said compared with recent years, 2012 had been a better one on the roads.

"It has been a good year and the motoring community, by and large, have been reasonably good to deal with," he said.

"It is a good result for Rotorua but good is a relative term."

Mr Taylor said police were stressing the same messages to avoid fatalities on the roads - don't speed, don't drink and drive and wear your safety belt.

"The challenge is to keep the message fresh so it is in the first part of people's thinking."

He said one of the big positives during the past two years on Rotorua roads was the significant drop in fatalities on state highways.

He said they had halved since 2010.

Four people died on the roads in 2012 and three in 2011. That compared with 14 in 2010, eight in 2009 and six in 2008.

"I think part of it is because we have focused on being more visible on the state highway network," Mr Taylor said.

"Three or four years ago guys would have no trouble catching people driving at excessive speeds [along the state highways] and now they are having trouble, which is a good thing."

Victim Support general manager operations Kevin Tso said it was their role to provide emotional help to families of crash victims shortly after a fatal crash. He said in Rotorua there was one manager plus a number of trained volunteers who would meet the victims' family, or witnesses to a crash, within 24 hours.

Mr Tso said their goal was to help families and victims move forward with their lives, and depending on the family, some would need long-term counselling.

"It depends on the family but there is a reasonable level of take up [for counselling] from people who feel that they need it."

He said victims' families went through a high level of emotional stress and supporting them shortly after a fatal crash helped reduce the later effects of post-traumatic stress.

Rotorua road deaths

2012 4

2011 3

2010 14

2009 8

2008 6

- Rotorua Daily Post

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