Dramatic Reduction in Road Deaths of Young New Zealanders

  • Jenny Shipley

"Young New Zealanders can take a bow, as their road safety record is improving," Transport Minister Jenny Shipley said today.

The statistics show a dramatic reduction in the number of young New Zealanders being killed on New Zealand roads this year.

Speaking at the Canterbury Regional Council Road Safety Forum today, Mrs Shipley referred to Land Transport Safety Authority figures showing that up to September 10, 1996, 66 young people aged 15-19 had been killed on the roads. So far this year, there have been 45 deaths in this age group.

"Clearly this year it is older drivers who need to pay attention to road safety, just as much as young people.

"Statistics show that the number of people aged over 25 killed on the roads has significantly increased so far this year (see attached table).

The Minister says the road toll is an ongoing tragedy, from which no New Zealander is immune.

"Already this year, 363 New Zealanders have been killed in road crashes. This is a significant increase on the same time last year, when the road toll was 343.

"Getting older doesn't make drivers any safer. I'm grateful that young New Zealanders are listening to the messages about driving safely. From my contact with young people, they've certainly taken on board the fact that drinking and driving don't mix, and it appears they may be acting more responsibly than older New Zealanders.

"The challenge is now for people in the older age groups to also start changing their behaviour.

"Every New Zealander getting behind the wheel should remember the four "lifesavers" on the road - sensible speed, safety belts, sober drivers and driver alertness.

"Already this year Police estimate that 47 road deaths would have been prevented if people had been wearing seatbelts. It is every driver's responsibility to see that they are driving safely," Mrs Shipley concluded.