Police Minister Stuart Nash has extended his sympathies to the families and friends of the 380 people who died in vehicle accidents during 2018.

Mr Nash has confirmed the provisional number of road deaths for 2018 has exceeded the annual toll for 2017, when 378 people lost their lives. It is the worst annual figure since 2009, when 384 people were killed.

The annual figure remains provisional and can be revised upwards or downwards following investigation of the circumstances of each accident. A medical event is not counted in official figures, but a death within 30 days of an accident would be included.

“There are far too many families who are missing a loved one these holidays after road accidents this year. It is devastating to know that many of these deaths were preventable,” says Mr Nash.

“Although road deaths as a proportion of our population and in comparison to the number of cars on the road has halved in the past twenty years, we can do much better. We can work together to reduce the number of deaths. The main contributing factors are speed, failure to wear a seatbelt, distraction such as using a cellphone, and impairment from drugs, alcohol, or fatigue.

“Police enforcement and visibility on our roads also needs investment. We have increased the number of frontline Police officers, including dedicated road policing teams. When we took office we were short of 111 dedicated road policing officers. By July 2018, all of those vacancies were filled. Police now have 1070 dedicated road policing staff. All other frontline Police are also expected to enforce road safety laws.

“Police remain out on the roads working hard to keep everyone safe. But they can’t do it alone – we all need to be responsible every time we get behind the wheel.

“The summer holidays are not over, and I encourage everyone to remain patient, courteous, and pay attention behind the wheel to ensure you and your loved ones get where you’re going safe and well,” Mr Nash says

The official holiday period runs from 4pm on Monday 24 December 2018 to 6am on Thursday 3 January 2019. The number of deaths so far stands at eight. During the 2017/18 holiday period there were 12 deaths.

The provisional figures show fatalities are made up of the following demographics:

– 49 per cent were the driver of the vehicle and 24 per cent were passengers

– 14 per cent were motorbike riders or pillion passengers

– 11 per cent were pedestrians

– Just over one per cent were cyclists

– 66 per cent were male and 34 per cent were female

– 28 per cent were in the sixty-plus age group

– 14 per cent were children or teenagers

– 13 per cent were aged between 20 and 24 years

– 48 per cent died in crashes on the open road on state highways

– The region with the largest share of fatalities was Waikato at 17 per cent; followed by Auckland and Canterbury with 14 per cent each; and Manawatu/Wanganui on 12 per cent

More information is on the Ministry of Transport website: https://www.transport.govt.nz/mot-resources/road-safety-resources/road-deaths/