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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Shady has a point.

Posted on 09-01-2021 15:19 | By morepork

I have long believed that at least 3rd party, fire, and theft insurance, should be compulsory in order to get a WOF (as it is in many other countries). And more cameras would help too. Enough revenue is being generated from existing fines to finance better camera coverage. I don’t see a problem with HOW people learn to drive, AS LONG as they reach a competent standard. Sadly, that standard is generally poor. The worst driving I ever saw in any country was in Turkey. The roads are bad, many without a median. They are all fatalists and believe that if they die it is the will of Allah... (It is absolutely frightening to be in a car there...) I wouldn’t want things here to sink to that level, but some of the driving we see every day is not far off it.

Facts Prof

Posted on 06-01-2021 17:51 | By Slim Shady

Nearly all countries have seen reduced death rates - the cars are getting better, not the drivers. The fact is that Kiwis crash more often than drivers in other ‘developed’ countries (look, I’m being kind NZ). And don’t blame the roads. Or foreign drivers. Look within - fines don’t get paid here, the licensing system is a joke, testing is inadequate, most learn from mates and dad, there is culture of speeding, no insurance is required, very few cameras. It’s a recipe for dumb idiots driving like idiots until they inevitably cause a crash. With recipes you get out what you put in. Change the recipe.

Tom Ranger

Posted on 06-01-2021 14:19 | By Tom Ranger

If lowering the holiday road toll is what we are after. How about we spread the traffic out a bit over the year? Instead of Set Statutory days. Give us the days in lieu to use at our discretion over the year. Not everyone is praying to Jesus on xmas day. I believe over time this could make a much larger impact than a fine or Demerit points.


Posted on 06-01-2021 13:45 | By The Professor

Interesting comments bruceb. I actually looked into this about 18 months ago and taking everything you discuss into account, discovered that the crash rate has actually dropped significantly. The authorities won’t tell us the truth because they try to justify the millions of dollars obtained each year through fines. Have a look at the NZ Police site to see how much money is generated through fines in each region.

Agree With hapukafin

Posted on 06-01-2021 13:02 | By Yadick

Agree with hapukafin, increase those fines heavily. Australian fines are significantly higher than our little petty cash dip. Make it sting, make it hurt, make it memorable.

Do fines really work?

Posted on 06-01-2021 12:51 | By The Professor

Whilst fines should be increased hapukafin, and whilst an increase may hurt some people, I say that points should be increased as a deterrent because that will hurt more......fewer offences before a driver loses their licence.

Road toll give the true facts

Posted on 06-01-2021 11:27 | By bruce.b

When are we going to be told the true facts, (1) How many more cars have been registered in the last 12 months that are now on the roads. (2) How many more drivers have been issued with drivers licences in the last 12 months. You will never stop road accidents with the way some people drive and with the crape roads we have to drive on.


Posted on 06-01-2021 11:10 | By Yadick

The blame is not the road. The blame is the driving. It’s not even that the message isn’t getting through rather it’s people ignoring the message. They know if they’re pulled over to sneakily put their seatbelts on, they know to hide their phone if a Police car appears so the bottomline is it’s just bl@@dy thoughtless, self entitled idiots.

make the fines hurt

Posted on 06-01-2021 10:53 | By hapukafin

When are drivers going to learn,wear your seat belts and leave your phone alone.How many of these accidents and deaths have been blamed on road conditions and speed wrongly.Fines need to be increased to be a deterrant.

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