The provisional road toll for 2013 of 254 was the lowest in the last 60 years. This compares with 308 in 2012, 284 in 2011, and 375 in 2010. 2013’s road toll was the lowest since 1950, when the annual road toll was 232.

The road toll has more than halved from twenty years ago, when 600 people died on the roads in 1993, and has dropped 69 percent compared to New Zealand’s worst year for road deaths, 1973, when 843 road deaths were recorded.

Ministry of Transport Land Transport manager Leo Mortimer said 2013's low toll was thanks to better driver attitudes, vehicles and roads, as well as tighter restrictions for younger drivers.

“While it is a positive sign that our road toll is continuing to trend downward, 254 people lost their lives on New Zealand roads in 2013, and many more had their lives changed forever due to serious injuries. The Ministry will continue to work with other road safety partners, including the NZ Police, the NZ Transport Agency and ACC to deliver on New Zealand’s road safety strategy to 2020, Safer Journeys. The Safer Journeys’ vision is a safe road system increasingly free of death and serious injury,” Mr Mortimer says.

“Lowering future road tolls will mean maintaining our focus on safer drivers, cars, speeds, roads and roadsides. Improvements in technology will also form a major part of road safety advancements."

While technology has a role to play, motorists need to continue to take responsibility to ensure that New Zealand’s road toll continues to decline.

“Our road safety messages are consistent. Drive within the speed limit and to the conditions. Make sure that you don’t drive fatigued or affected by drugs and alcohol. Keep your car well maintained and be courteous and patient with other road users,” Mr Mortimer says.

The government has introduced a number of initiatives to improve road safety, including introducing legislation to lower the drink-drive limit for adult drivers. Other measures include:

  • increasing the driving age to 16
  • introducing a zero blood alcohol level for drivers under 20 and repeat offenders
  • strengthening driving licence testing to raise the standard
  • changing the give way rule
  • introducing alcohol interlocks for repeat offenders
  • increasing the mandatory requirement for child restraint use to child passengers aged up to seven years.

While the overall annual road toll was a record low, seven people died on the roads as a result of seven fatal crashes during the official Christmas holiday period. This is one more death than the same period last year which was the lowest road toll for this time since 1956/57.

The official holiday period began at 4pm Tuesday 24 December 2013 and ended at 6am on Friday 3 January 2014.

Read the Associate Transport Minister Michael Woodhouse’s media release from 1 January 2014 here(external link) and from 3 January 2014 here(external link).

Information on the annual road toll, dating back to 1921

The government’s draft Intelligent Transport Systems Action Plan

Information on the social cost of road crashes and serious injuries in 2012

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