Police are appealing to motorists to slow down, wear restraints and not drive after drinking alcohol.

The number of fatal and serious injury crashes in Northland is on the rise and Police say the causes of these crashes include speed, alcohol and not wearing restraints.

Northland Road Policing Manager Inspector Murray Hodson says five motorcyclists, six car drivers and one pedestrian have been killed on the roads so far this year.
At the same time last year nine people had died in vehicle crashes.

“There has also been a spike in people hospitalised (for more than three days) by serious injury. This means ongoing suffering for those injured and their families. The margin between being seriously injured and dying is fine.”

Mr Hodson says motorists are not following the basics of good driving such as slowing down and driving to the conditions, not driving after drinking alcohol, wearing restraints (seatbelts and approved child seats), and generally concentrating on their driving.

“People are making simple mistakes and are becoming complacent like thinking they only have a short distance to drive, so they will be fine. Many crashes occur when people are near their destination.”

Mr Hodson says speed is also creeping up with the mean speed for suburban streets being clocked at 67.5 km/h in 50 km/h speed zones and on the open road it is 117.1 km/h in 100 km/h speed zones (data from infringement notices).

“Drivers also think they won’t be caught, but we are increasing the number of road side checkpoints and putting more road policing staff into our rural communities. The community is also our eyes and ears and do report poor driver behaviour through the *555 number. So drivers won’t get away with bad driving.”

Police are also working with their partner agencies to reduce trauma on the roads. A number of organisations hold driver licensing programmes to ensure drivers, particularly young people, can get their driver licences and learn to drive safely.

“We work with sports clubs to ensure that people get home safely after drinking. We hold checkpoints that focus on restraint wearing. Northland District Health Board also runs programmes for recidivist drink drivers.”

Mr Hodson says the work with partners is not just about enforcement, but prevention and ensuring there are less victims of road trauma in Northland.
“It is always devastating to have to tell a family that a loved one has died or ended up in hospital with life threatening injuries. This doesn’t have to happen if we all stick to the basic rules of driving and consider all other road users.”

For media inquiries contact Northland Police Communications Manager Sarah Kennett on 09 945 4650 or 021 192 1099.