Deaths and serious injuries are not inevitable on New Zealand roads


New Zealand’s road safety authorities are urging Kiwis to back the vision of an Aotearoa where deaths and serious injuries on our roads are not inevitable, and to support the changes being made to significantly reduce serious crashes and save lives.

“With more than a week still left in 2022, over 350 people have already lost their lives from crashes on our roads. Every one of those deaths is a tragedy for the families and communities affected, and on top of that loss thousands more people have been seriously injured in crashes. Tragically, many of these deaths and serious injuries are the result of simple mistakes, and they can be prevented by creating a system that is more forgiving, where people don’t pay with their lives when someone makes a simple mistake.

“New Zealand’s Road to Zero strategy and action plan is focussed on making the changes needed to create that safe system for Aotearoa. Every action delivered through Road to Zero is aimed at reducing the pain and suffering which road crashes inflict on our communities and our whānau,” says Kane Patena, Waka Kotahi Director of Land Transport.

Mr Patena says Waka Kotahi, NZ Police and Te Manatū Waka will be focussed on delivering a wide range of safety improvements and other actions in 2023 to make progress towards the Road to Zero  target of a 40% reduction in deaths and serious injuries on New Zealand roads by 2030.

“In 2023 New Zealanders will see the installation of more life-saving side and median barriers, more Police enforcement targeting unsafe driving, safe speed limits on our roads, promotion of safe vehicles and the delivery of more infrastructure to make our towns and cities safe for people walking and riding bikes. All of these things will make a difference for a safe Aotearoa, and we need New Zealanders to support this important work,” Mr Patena says.

Bryan Sherritt, Director Road to Zero, Te Manatū Waka Ministry of Transport, says it’s crucial that momentum continues in delivering the current programme of work across Road to Zero.

“We’ve made a good start to rolling out safety improvements, but we also acknowledge that there is a lot more work to do, and the next few years will be absolutely critical to our success. The level of trauma on our roads this year is a tragic and sobering reminder of the work that remains to be done. It’s crucial that we maintain our focus on creating a safe system where the responsibility for safety is shared amongst those who design, build, manage and use the roads and vehicles,” says Mr Sherritt.

Moving into the end-of year holiday period, NZ Police Assistant Commissioner Bruce O’Brien stresses the importance of everyone making safe driving choices, as well as planning ahead for safe holiday journeys.

“We’re seeing New Zealanders returning to regular routines following the past few years of disruption, and summer holiday road trips to visit friends and whānau are no exception. More of us are getting out on the roads and Police will be working hard to keep everyone safe,” says Assistant Commissioner O’Brien.

Following deployment to support the Covid-19 response, Police are devoting significantly more resources to road policing. There has already been a significant increase alcohol breath screening tests with more than 2.2 million tests conducted in the year to 31 October 2022.

“Police will be out in force over the summer holidays to deter risky driver behaviour such as speeding and drunk driving. These behaviours cause death and serious injury on the road every year but they don’t have to. We want you to get to your destination, so please drive safely and know that you can expect to see Police out on the roads.” 

Editors’ notes:

The official 2022 Christmas New Year holiday period begins 4pm on Friday 23 December and ends 6am on Wednesday 4 January, 2023.

As at 21 December 2022, 358 people have lost their lives on New Zealand’s roads. Please note that these figures are provisional and may include deaths or crashes which are subsequently excluded.

For up to date statistics, direct queries to Te Manatū Waka or visit link).