Record zero holiday road toll

Last updated 10:51 07/06/2011
PAULA ROSE: "We have been recording either record-breaking or record-equalling [figures] every month for the last nine, except for in April."
COPPING IT: A  driver is pulled over  near Paremata.
ANDREW GORRIE/ The Dominion Post
COPPING IT: A driver is pulled over near Paremata.

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Police Minister Judith Collins says the zero road toll over Queen's Birthday weekend shows people have had enough of seeing deaths on the roads.

As of 6am, the end of the official Queen's Birthday holiday period, there had been no fatal car accidents on New Zealand roads.

The zero toll marks the first time since records began in 1951 that no-one has died on the roads during a holiday weekend.

Judith Collins said the zero road toll showed common sense had prevailed.

"I think it is a combination of very good policing, very good messaging, a lot of police out and also really good work from the motorists, I just think a lot of people have had enough of seeing people killed on the roads."

"However, we should celebrate the lack of deaths this long weekend but should not get too excited for the future."

Transport Minister Steven Joyce said the lower annual road toll was due to a number of factors - higher fuel prices, policing, advertising and rule changes.

"The thing about road safety is you have to have a whole package of methods." That included the safety of roads, both the quality and the engineering.

"I think it's important that people stay very careful on the roads and take responsibility for their actions, that's probably the most important thing of all."


The country's top roading police officer says the weekend's zero road toll was not a "one-hit wonder" - but sustaining it will be difficult.

Police roading national manager Superintendent Paula Rose said the zero toll was not the result of "crossing fingers" but a concentrated effort.

"It's not just a one-hit wonder - the number of fatal crashes has been tracking downward since October," Rose said.

"We have been recording either record-breaking or record-equalling [figures] every month for the last nine, except for in April."

Rose believed the downward trend was a result of tireless police work, combined with a lower speeding tolerance, and well-behaved drivers.

Although she was pleased with the result, Rose said one weekend did not make a sustained trend.

"Will zero be hard to beat? Yes."

The previous record low for a holiday weekend was one person, in 1956.

The total number of crashes during Queen's Birthday weekend was down 2 per cent on last year.

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It stands at 374, compared with 384 at the same time last year.


This weekend is the first since police announced they would permanently lower the speeding tolerance for all holiday weekends to four kilometres per hour.

That policy, trialled since last Queen's Birthday after a horror Easter Weekend in which 12 people died, had helped to contribute to the lowered toll, Rose said.

"The four-kilometre tolerance has had a significant impact. It's slowed the traffic down and it's made people focus more on their driving."

Though the speeding tolerance and a "highly visible" police force had helped, the public had played its part, too, Rose said.

"The overwhelming majority of road users have been really great.

"Before they even get to the car they're thinking about their driving and their journey."


The weekend had helped keep 2011 on target for the lowest-ever annual road toll.

At June 3, the total for the year so far was 120 deaths, compared with 184 at the same point last year.

"We're on the back of eight months of extremely good road safety," Rose said.

A quiet weekend on Wellington's roads was marred by two crashes on Saturday night, both seriously injuring pedestrians.

The first was at the intersection of Taranaki and Buckle streets; the second happened along Jervois Quay.

Wellington road policing manager Inspector Peter Baird said both pedestrians were still in hospital last night.

Police were investigating whether either of them had been drinking.

A spokeswoman for Wellington Hospital was not able to say what condition either victim was in last night.



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