Fewer southern teens in serious road crashes

Fewer Southland teens are dying and being injured on the roads than five years ago.

Figures released by the NZ Transport Agency show the number of fatal and serious crashes involving teen drivers in Southland dropped from 24 in 2009 to 11 this year.

Among the tragedies in 2009 was a triple fatality when teenage driver Jesse Langeveld, 19, and passengers Tyler Parry, 16, and Ethan Peek, 16, were killed after the modified car they were travelling in slammed into a concrete wall in Leven St, Invercargill.

The figures also show Southland ranks the third-lowest in the country for its learner licence pass rates, with only 65 per cent of candidates passing the computerised test.

Manawatu comes out top with a 75 per cent pass rate, while West Coast sits bottom on 60 per cent.

NZ Transport Agency regional director for the southern region, Jim Harland, said a combination of factors had helped significantly reduce the number of fatal and serious crashes involving teen drivers in Southland.

Raising the legal driving age to 16 and reducing the youth breath alcohol limit to zero had a big impact on the toll, he said.

Mr Harland believed computerised theory tests for learner licences, introduced in 2009, had also played a role in making younger drivers more competent.

The randomly generated questions meant candidates had to engage with road rules to pass, he said.

"You actually need to understand the road code and the rules and be able to apply them."

At only 2 per cent below the national average, Southland's pass rate was nothing to be concerned about, he said.

It had increased from 51 per cent in 2009.

AT A GLANCE

Fatal and serious injury crashes involving teen drivers in Southland:

2008: 1 fatal, 22 serious

2009: 6 fatal, 18 serious

2010: 1 fatal, 18 serious

2011: 2 fatal, 11 serious

2012: 0 fatal, 11 serious

Source: NZ Transport Agency

The Southland Times