2020/21 holiday road toll highest in three years

A total of 11 people were killed on NZ roads this Christmas/New Year holidays. Photo: RNZ.

Five people killed on New Zealand roads during the holiday period were not wearing seatbelts or suitable restraints, police say.

Eleven people were killed on New Zealand roads during the Christmas/New Year holiday period – the highest number in three years and almost three time the number of deaths a year earlier.

The official holiday period began at 4pm on Christmas Eve and ended at 6am on Tuesday.

Acting national road policing manager Inspector Peter McKennie says at least five of the holiday crash victims were not wearing seat belts or suitable restraints. Another two died in a motorbike crash.

Wearing a seat belt would not necessarily have meant they would have survived, but they would have had a better chance, he says.

He declined to comment further about the deaths as they were subject to coronial hearings.

McKennie says there is no magic recipe for keeping everyone safe on the roads.

“It’s about going back to basics, understanding the impact of speed and making sure you’re always wearing a seat belt.”

Duty Minister Willie Jackson says the deaths are a tragedy for whānau and emergency responders, particularly at this time of year.

“It is a sad reminder to us all that ... we must respect the conditions and speed limits to ensure no other whānau has to deal with the heartbreak of losing their loved one.”

The road toll is the highest in three years.

The 2019-20 year total was four, in 2018-19 it was nine, and in 2017-18 it was 12.

Last year, 320 people lost their lives on New Zealand’s roads.

Ministry of Transport mobility and safety manager Helen White says the figure was “an absolute tragedy”.

“We saw far too many tragic crashes last year and it’s time we agreed that deaths or serious injuries on our roads are no longer acceptable.”

The Government launched the Road to Zero Road Safety Strategy last year, which aimed to prevent 750 deaths and 5600 serious injuries on New Zealand roads over the next 10 years.

While mistakes were inevitable on roads, deaths and serious injuries from crashes were not, White says.

Holiday Road Deaths

On Christmas Day, Rebecca McAlees, 24, and Terry Charleston, 34, were killed in rural south Auckland when the car they were in crashed into a power pole.

On Boxing Day, two people died when their car hit a bridge in West Auckland.

One has since been named as 20-year-old Viliami Muru-Teutau. Police say the name of the other person will be released later.

On December 28, Kareen​ Marie Malcolm and James Lennon Malcolm, both 61 and of Invercargill, died their motorbike collided with a milk tanker in Southland.

A person died when two cars smashed together in Pahīatua, north of Masterton, on December 29.

Another person died in a crash in Dairy Flats, Auckland, on December 29.

On December 30, Benjamin Simon Furze died in a single-car crash in Christchurch. Two other people in the car were injured and taken to Christchurch Hospital.

The toll rose to 10 on New Year's Day following the death of 6-year-old Wellington boy Myka Tuala in a two-car crash just north of Whangārei.

One person was killed in a collision between a truck and a car on State Highway 29, in the Bay of Plenty, on Monday.

-Stuff/Debbie Jamieson.

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