Fewer crashes in South Canterbury
A total of 307 people were killed in crashes on New Zealand's roads in 2012, according to provisional data released by New Zealand Police.
One of those people died in the Timaru District. Two deaths were reported in the Waimate District and three in the Waitaki.
Nationally, it was New Zealand's second-lowest road toll in 60 years. The lowest, 275, was recorded in 2011.
Timaru's one death marked the district's lowest road toll since 2009.
In the Mid-South Canterbury police area, the average number of road crashes per month has been in a gradual decline for several years, according to incidents reported to police communications.
Mid-South Canterbury averaged about 58 crashes per month in 2012.
That's down from an average of 62 crashes per month in 2011, and 64 per month in 2010.
Several factors likely contributed to the decrease, said Area Commander Inspector Dave Gaskin.
Engineering projects, such as the diversion put in at the intersection of State Highway 1 and Daniels Rd and the creation of passing lanes in several spots, have helped to regulate the flow of traffic, he said.
In addition, police have increased their enforcement of traffic laws, and educational efforts are also raising drivers' awareness of the dangers of drink driving and speed and the importance of wearing seatbelts.
"The way we drive is a cultural thing,'' he said. ''We're slowly going down the track of making a change to people's habits."
The national road toll has trended down since the late 1980s, and should continue to do so, according to Superintendent Carey Griffiths, National Manager of Road Policing.
Several government agencies have worked together to improve the quality of New Zealand roadways, reduce speeds, improve driver behaviour and make vehicles safer, he said.
"We've also seen significant advances in trauma care, and we can see how those systems are helping to reduce deaths," he added.
The 2012 road toll was initially set at 306, but rose after an 81-year-old woman died in hospital as a result of injuries sustained in a December 31 crash north of Whangarei.
The road toll for the Christmas and New Year holiday period was set at six, also a record low since officials began recording holiday period data in 1956-57.
Last year's holiday road toll was 19, and the highest on record was 37 deaths in 1972-73.
- The Timaru Herald