Sharp decline in Otago road fatalities


Figures just released by the NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) show the number of people killed on roads in the Otago region in 2009 was the lowest in over five years.

NZTA crash data for Otago from 2005 to 2009 shows that 86 people died and 1,138 were seriously injured on the region’s roads. Last year, 11 people were killed and 211 were seriously injured in road crashes, compared to 21 deaths and 189 people seriously injured in 2008.

NZTA Otago-Southland Regional Director Bruce Richards says that intersection crashes and crashes where drivers lost control of their vehicle on a bend and left the road are two of the biggest road safety issues facing the region. Loss of control crashes on bends have claimed 41 lives on Otago roads over the last five years and seriously injured 461 people. The main causes of these crashes were poor handling and excessive speed for the road conditions. A roadside hazard was struck in nearly 80 percent of loss of control crashes with cliffs and fences the most commonly hit objects.

“The Safer Journey’s Road Safety Strategy, with its focus on safe vehicles, safe speeds safe road use and safe roadsides, should help reduce the severity of crashes involving vehicles leaving the road. The safe road and roadsides part of the Strategy will eventually see features such as signage, speed limits and road markings to encourage drivers to travel at speeds appropriate for the design and function of particular roads”.

Mr Richards says Intersection crashes are another major road safety concern for the region. The number of serious injury crashes at intersections in 2009 was the highest in five years – the leading causes of these were failing to stop and poor driver observation. Males made up two thirds of at fault drivers in these crashes.

Young drivers were over represented in fatal and serious injury crashes in Otago over the last five years claiming the lives of 42 people and seriously injuring just over 500.  Poor observation skills and failing to stop or give way were the main contributing factors in these crashes.

Mr Richards said improving young driver safety is a high priority in the Safer Journey’s Road Safety Strategy. One of the measures in the Strategy to help achieve this involves encouraging young drivers to undertake 120 hours of supervised driving with a family member or a friend who is an experienced driver. Research show this can help reduce a young person’s risk of crashing by up 40 percent when they begin driving solo.

Road safety issues reports for each council in the Otago region are can be found at link)