The yearly road toll is out and once again it makes sad and sobering reading.

The national toll is the highest since 2009, at 380 persons killed.

Of these, 22 were killed on Hawke's Bay roads.

That's seven more than last year and the worst since 2012.


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There have been recent calls for the impersonal term "road toll" to be replaced by something more emotive. The words "human cost" were suggested.

It might be more appropriate, but the real human cost would stretch far beyond the number 22.

None of those crash victims existed in a vacuum.

For each fatal crash there would be devastated family and friends whose lives would never be the same. For each crash there could be injured survivors suffering lifelong consequences, and witnesses with traumatic memories of the event they can't ever forget.

There will have been emergency services personnel dealing with the experience, accumulating sorrow and stress that needs professional help to dispel. Ambulance and hospital staff with patients' lives slipping through their hands, police making horrible house-calls on parents and partners. Victim Support volunteers trying to help in the aftermath.

These holidays the road toll stands at 13 ... or it did when I wrote this.

I have sat at my desk this week seeing police notifications arrive in my emails, one by one, fatal crash after fatal crash.

And I have driven to and from work on State Highway 2, and seen risky driving behaviour every day and wondered ... why are we not learning?