A seat belt could have saved the life of a Northland teenager killed when the vehicle he was thrown from rolled onto him last Thursday, police say.
Joel Matthew Stanners, 17, of Maungatūroto, was the front-seat passenger in a white seven-seater Volkswagen which failed to make a left-hand corner on the loose metal of Bickerstaffe Rd in Maungatūroto at around 3.15pm.
Stanners was thrown from the vehicle which subsequently rolled onto him as it dropped down a 5m grass bank.
Crash analyst Jeff Cramp, of the police Serious Crash Unit, said high speeds were not a factor in the crash that occurred around 70km south of Whangārei.
Instead it was a tragic reminder to always wear a seat belt as both Stanners and the driver had been unrestrained when the vehicle left the road.
"No-one's life would've been lost if they were wearing a seat belt," Cramp said.
The driver managed to stay inside the vehicle and had minor injuries when St John paramedics treated them at the scene.
Cramp also advised people to take extra care when driving on unsealed roads in the region.
"Drive to the conditions - especially on loose metal, as it's unpredictable. When there are very dry conditions it can easily become a slippery surface."
Northland's road death toll last year stood at 27, with 10 involving people who had failed to use a seat belt or child restraint.
Roadsafe Northland and Northland Road Safety Trust chairman John Williamson said 40 per cent of Northland's road fatalities in 2020 were caused by three per cent of drivers not wearing seat belts.
''It is tragically simplistic to reduce the pain of those fatalities to a statistic. But when we consider that the three per cent of drivers not wearing seatbelts cause 40 per cent of our road fatalities, its starkness starts to hit home.'' Williamson said in his most recent On The Road safety column in the Advocate.
"In many of our seat belt fatalities, alcohol and speed were involved. They may well have caused the crash, but the lack of a seat belt created the fatality."
Thursday's crash took Northland's road toll this year so far to six - the same number as the same stage last year.
It follows the death of Monty Thomas Shelford, 41, of Kaikohe, who died on State Highway 1 at Pakaraka on February 19.