Christmas Driving Responsibility Rests With Motorists

  • Mark Gosche

Responsibility rests with motorists to ensure this holiday season is a time for celebration and not for mourning, according to Transport Minister the Hon. Mark Gosche.

"Christmas is a time for having fun and visiting friends and family. Unfortunately, it's also one of our worst times of the year for road crashes. But it doesn't have to be. By planning ahead and being patient on the roads, we can all make these holidays safer," Mr Gosche said today.

Mr Gosche was commenting as the Land Transport Safety Authority unveiled its seasonal road safety commercial, to be screened on national television from tonight.

It features a montage of images from LTSA campaigns throughout the year and is fronted by Constable Kane Haerewa of the Wainuiomata Community Policing Centre.

The voice-over begins with Constable Haerewa stating: “This Christmas New Year period, 26 people will die on New Zealand roads.” He later asks: “So who’s it gonna be?”

The message finishes with the graphic: “Drive bloody carefully this Christmas.”

Mr Gosche said that the volume of traffic on the roads increases sharply over the holiday period, and drivers should budget extra time for their journeys.

"Plan to take your time, share the driving if you can and take rest breaks to avoid fatigue if you are travelling long distances."

Given the increased traffic volume, it was especially important that motorists drove within the speed limits and according to the conditions.

“Be patient and you'll reach your destination safely. Remember, 'the faster you go, the bigger the mess'," Mr Gosche said.

The Minister also stressed the importance of buckling up in preparing for any journey, and he reminded parents and other drivers of their duty to see that children are strapped in.

"A lot of families will be travelling during these holidays. It is the driver's responsibility to see that children under 15 are wearing seatbelts or approved child restraints. Statistics show us that 49 people have died in crashes already this year because they weren't using seatbelts or in child restraints. Let's not have any more needless deaths over the holidays."

Drink/driving is a particular concern over the holidays, especially big millennium celebrations being planned, and Mr Gosche urged people to avoid problems by preparing safe transport well in advance.

"If you're planning on drinking, don’t plan on driving," he said.

"Plan alternatives ahead of time – have a sober driver, use public transport or taxis, dial-a-driver, or stay the night.

"Christmas is a season for celebration, not for mourning, and with a little patience and preparation, we can all celebrate this year."