While New Zealand is on track to record its lowest road toll in 60 years, Canterbury is facing its worst year on the roads since 2007.
Last year's road toll surpassed the 2012 toll by October and seventeen more people have lost their lives on Canterbury roads since then.
The region's road toll now stands at 50 fatalities for 2013.
The Canterbury region has the highest road toll of the year and it is the first time it has eclipsed the Auckland region in four years.
NZ Transport Agency data shows over the past five years, most of those killed or seriously injured in a crash in Canterbury had been in the 15-24 age group.
The age group with the next most deaths or serious injuries was 40-49.
This year also heralded a spike in elderly driver fatalities, with six fatalities in drivers aged over 70.
Canterbury's worst-ever road toll was 82 deaths in 1986, while the lowest was 32 in 2000. The 2013 toll was the worst to hit the region since 56 people died in 2008.
Alison Hutton's cousin Colin Alexander, 76, died in Christchurch Hospital on July 3, the day after being hit by a car while cycling on Hills Rd in Shirley.
"It was a man taken too soon," Hutton said.
"His health was such he could have been another 10 years easily, but that's the way it went and added another one to the statistics."
In the six months since Alexander's death, Hutton found the attitudes some motorists had towards cyclists had failed to change.
"We're still hearing of motorists who have no idea about how to share the road . . . but by the same token, sometimes I'm appalled by cyclists when I'm driving. Both need to do better."
She believed more road safety education was needed, but was encouraged by the fact the national road toll had reduced.
"If the national one can come down one has to assume we are becoming more conscious of our safety."
Senior Sergeant Malcolm Johnston said earlier this week that it was only "sheer luck" that had prevented more deaths in Canterbury.
Too many Canterbury drivers were failing to use their vehicle's headlights during "atrocious" weather conditions, making it difficult for other motorists to see them, he said.
Despite Canterbury's grim figures, the national road toll was likely to be the lowest it has been per head of population since 1950.
As at 6pm yesterday, 254 fatalities had been recorded in New Zealand over 2013 - 43 lower than in 2013.
Police hoped a lower speed threshold over the festive seas- on would aid in reaching the goal.
The 2012/2013 Christmas holiday period resulted in six fatal crashes and 237 reported injury crashes. It was the lowest recorded number of fatalities over the Christmas holiday period.
The holiday road toll this year rose to six after a motorcyclist was killed on State Highway 1 north of Bulls yesterday morning and the death of 46-year-old Hamilton woman Lynelle Joy Bray when her car collided with a bus at a busy corner on Monday.
AA spokesman Dylan Thomsen said there was still more to be done to reduce suffering from road crashes, including putting more focus on the thousands of injuries that occurred every year.
Road deaths had dropped significantly since 2010, but injuries had not decreased as much, with almost 12,000 people hurt in crashes last year, he said.
November 27 – Lindsay Sarchet died in Christchurch Hospital on his 63rd birthday after his Toyota Supra crashed on Tai Tapu Rd.
November 25 – Indian man Gaurav Bhabhera, 28, and Ashburton woman Marae Judy Dean, 52, died when their vehicles collided head-on near Bankside, just north of the Rakaia River on State Highway 1.
November 5 – Mother-of-11 May Manumalealii, 53, died in a crash on Main South Rd, near Rolleston, that also injured her husband.
October 24 – Damien Ryan, 39, was just metres from his rural Canterbury home when he lost control of his vehicle, crashed into a hedge and was flung 15 metres near West Melton.
August 31 – Faith Wood, 18, was killed when the van she was in with five others plummeted more than 70 metres down a cliff between Cass and Bealey.
July 2 – Cyclist Colin Frank Alexander, 76, died in hospital the day after colliding with a car on Hills Rd - only a few blocks from his Crosby St home.
March 27 – Joanne Marjorie Drummond, 54, was killed after being struck by a vehicle at the intersection of Breezes and Wainoni roads. Her death came only three days after 31-year-old Carl Taylor died less than a kilometre away when he was also hit by a vehicle while cycling.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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