Reducing your driving speed could mean the difference between life and death, which is why the Ministry of Transport fully supports the New Zealand Police’s lower speed enforcement threshold over December and January.

“We know that regardless of what causes a crash, driving speed is the major determinant of the crash outcome. It can be the difference between walking away from a crash, or someone suffering serious injuries, or dying,” Ministry of Transport Land Transport Safety Manager Leo Mortimer says.

“Speeding increases both the risk of having a crash, as well as the severity of the outcome if a crash happens. Driving within the speed limit, to the conditions and watching your following distance, are things we can all do, and will make a big difference to everyone’s safety on the roads.”

Over summer motorists are often travelling longer distances on unfamiliar roads and sometimes on less-travelled rural roads where power poles, trees and ditches can be potentially fatal hazards when hit at speed. On many of New Zealand’s open roads, the only thing separating traffic is a thin line of paint.

“New Zealand Police will continue to stop motorists who flaunt the law by driving over the speed limit. They will also be targeting those who put others at risk by driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol. However it is a myth that only bad people and bad drivers cause crashes and die on our roads. Ordinary mums and dads can get distracted, fatigued and make a mistake.

“All road users are human, and mistakes will happen. Ultimately it is the speed you are travelling at which determines whether a simple mistake results in an insurance claim, a hospital stay, or a funeral.”

The risk of fatality in a head-on crash rises steeply from speeds over 70 km/h. On open roads, research suggests that even a small reduction in average speeds could reduce fatalities caused by car crashes.

“The road is a shared space, and we all need to take responsibility so that everyone has a safe and happy summer. Everyone from motorists, motorcyclists, cyclists, horse riders and pedestrians needs to be aware of each other and take care.

“Spread the summer good will by being courteous on the roads. For example, if you are travelling in a slower vehicle, such as towing a caravan, make sure that you are considerate of other drivers and give them the opportunity to pass you when safe,” Mr Mortimer says.

Notes for editors

In New Zealand in 2012, speeding was a contributing factor in 68 fatal crashes, 307 serious injury crashes and 1,049 minor injury crashes. These crashes resulted in 85 deaths, 405 serious injuries and 1,493 minor injuries. The total social cost of crashes involving drivers speeding was about $637 million, which is approximately 20 percent of the social cost associated with all injury crashes.

Loss of control and head-on crashes are the most common types of fatal crash involving speeding. Over 80 percent of the fatal crashes in which speed was a factor fall into these categories.

View information on speed crash facts

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