The Western Bay's road toll for 2014 is shocking.

Sixteen people lost their lives on our roads last year - the highest number since 2003.

Western Bay road policing Senior Sergeant Ian Campion has described it as gutting and disheartening.

He estimates 90 per cent of police time was spent on preventative activities and in previous years their efforts had been rewarded. The road toll steadily fell from 27 fatalities in 2003 to six deaths in 2013.

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The provisional national holiday road toll, which stands at 17 and is more than double last year's toll, is also horrific.

Critics say it is proof that their zero-speed tolerance campaign over the holiday period is a failure.

New Zealand First MP Ron Mark says police clamping down on motorists driving even one kilometre over the speed limit is ridiculous and ineffective.

Police reject this and say the speed enforcement policy is based on sound research from bodies such as the World Health Organisation, the European Union and road safety scientists around the world.

Most people abide by safety messages but mistakes are made on the road. Unfortunately, these mistakes sometimes prove fatal.

As this paper has noted before, the difference between life and death on our country's roads is a fickle business and it's easy to become an innocent victim. There will always be dangers on the road but it's important that pressure continues to be applied to improve driver behaviour.

For this reason, it is unfair to criticise police for their efforts. They are doing the best they can.

It should also be noted that reducing the road toll is a shared responsibility - it does not sit solely with police.

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