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Road deaths are not inevitable – Waka Kotahi

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Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency says the 320 lives lost in crashes last year are a stark reminder of the urgent need to significantly improve road safety in New Zealand.

“As we enter 2021 our thoughts are with the whanau, friends and communities of every one of the 320 people who tragically died on this country’s roads over the last 12 months. While the number of road deaths in 2020 was fewer than in 2019 (352), that is in the context of a year when there was very little road travel for several weeks during the Covid-19 lockdown, and by any measure it represents a tragedy for this country,” says Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency General Manager Safety, Health and Environment Greg Lazzaro.

“Over the past ten years, more than 3,200 people have died in road crashes in New Zealand, and an estimated 23,000 have been seriously injured. Those are staggering figures that we all need to take notice of. Deaths and serious injuries on our roads are not inevitable, and we shouldn’t accept that serious crashes are just another part of road travel. We’re all human and we can all make mistakes, but every one of us also has the power to make the right decisions which will keep the roads safer for everyone.

“Improving safety on New Zealand roads is a top priority for Waka Kotahi. We are committed to Vision Zero, which aspires to a New Zealand where no-one is killed or seriously injured on our roads.  Waka Kotahi and Police are working together with local government and others to deliver Road to Zero, the Government’s road safety strategy for 2020-2030. Road to Zero aims to reduce deaths and serious injuries on our roads by 40 percent over the next 10 years.”

As part of its work on Road to Zero, Waka Kotahi will be working to improve the safety of New Zealand’s roads and roadsides, improve vehicle safety and work-related road safety, and lead a new approach to speed management which matches speed limits to the design, use, form and function of the road, and the risks posed to road users.

New Zealand's road safety strategy(external link) 

Editors’ notes

The highest number of annual road deaths recorded in New Zealand was 843, in 1973, and the second highest number of annual deaths was 795, in 1987. The lowest number of road deaths in recent years was 253, in 2013. The last time fewer than 250 road deaths were recorded was 1950, when 232 died. More historical data is available on the Ministry of Transport website.

Ministry of Transport website(external link)

Road to Zero is the Government’s strategy for improving road safety over the next decade.

Details on Waka Kotahi’s role in delivering Road to Zero(external link)

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