Official Holiday Road Toll Begins - Safety Tips

Published: Wed 24 Dec 2003 10:46 PM
Road Policing – 2003/04 Xmas Holiday Period
1. Holiday Road Toll
The official holiday period will begin at 1600 on Wednesday 24 December 2003 and end at 0600 Monday 5 January 2003.
During the 2002/2003 Christmas holiday period there were 14 fatal crashes and 207 reported injury crashes. These crashes resulted in 17 deaths, 76 serious injuries and 246 minor injuries.
The deaths included:
8 Car and van passengers
4 Car and van drivers
1 Truck driver
1 Motorcycle rider
1 Motorcycle pillion
2 Pedestrians
14 of the 17 deaths and nearly 60% of all the reported injuries occurred in open road crashes. Ten deaths were in single vehicle crashes in which a driver lost control of the vehicle or ran off the roadway. A further 3 deaths were in crashes involving a head on collision.
The most common factors contributing to reported crashes over the holiday period were driver losing control (25%), too fast for conditions (21%), alcohol (17%), failing to give way (15%) and inattention (14%). For fatal crashes, too fast for conditions, alcohol, driver losing control and fatigue were the most commonly reported contributing factors.
Commentary around the higher road toll
More cars travelling more kilometres are causing more crashes on New Zealand roads.
LTSA traffic surveys show the total number of vehicle kilometres travelled (VKT) on New Zealand roads has increased by 7.5% since 2001, when the last surveys were carried out. Petrol deliveries increased by 8% in the 12 months to June 2003, suggesting that much of the increase in VKT has occurred in the most recent year.
The number of vehicle kilometres travelled on non-motorway open roads is up even more dramatically, by 15% this year from 2001. About three-quarters of all fatal crashes occur on open roads.
An analysis of crashes this year shows that drink driving has contributed to 28% of fatal crashes and excessive speed to 34%. Nearly 30% of the 441 people killed this year have not been wearing seatbelts.
New Zealand's road fatality rate has come down 50 percent since 1990, in spite of significant increases in population, on-road vehicles and kilometres driven.
2. 2010 Strategy
The new enforcement measures were announced on Tuesday 16 December 2003.
The Road Safety to 2010 strategy, released in October 2003 is one of the top six in the Government's National Injury Prevention Strategy and lists the road safety goals and describes the strategy proposed to achieve them. The goals relate to the number of crash-related deaths (no more than 400 in 2004 and 300 in 2010) and the number of crash related hospitalisations (no more than 5,870 in 2004 and 4,500 in 2010). The strategy indicates that new interventions are necessary to achieve the road safety goals.
The strategy considers engineering (both vehicles and roads), education, and enforcement. A mix of all three types of intervention is intended to maximise the safety impact of interventions and provide value for money.
An announcement on the engineering proposal was made on 16 October 2003. This was followed by an announcement on 25 November 2003 on education initiatives. The key initiative for the education component of the strategy is "Up to Scratch". This is a new direct marketing voluntary scratch test that licence holders and/or vehicle owners will receive, inviting them to test themselves on the road code and road safety risks. Other initiatives include personalised communication to speeding offenders and expansion of the successful "Safe Driving is Good Business Programme".
After engineering and education, the third "E" is the enforcement of new initiatives designed to support the 2010 road safety goals.
A range of enforcement options have been debated over the last few months and announced on 16 December.
The new measures are:
Reduce the qualifying speed for immediate licence suspension to exceeding 40km/h over the applicable permanent posted speed limit where this limit is 50km/h or more; retain the existing qualifying speed (exceeding 50km/h) for immediate licence suspension for all other speed limits. (Transit NZ will review all speed signage before this is implemented.)
Speed cameras (fixed or in cars or vans) located anywhere at any time with all zones and signage removed, but excluding hidden, camouflaged cameras.
Immediate driver licence suspension for a driver with a blood alcohol level exceeding 80mg/100ml or breath equivalent, where the person has a previous drink-drive conviction within 4 years.
Immediate impoundment for 28 days of the vehicle of a driver with a blood alcohol level exceeding 80mg/100ml or breath exceeding 400mcg/l, where the person has two previous drink-drive convictions within 4 years (in addition to immediate licence suspension and a requirement that the driver re-sit and pass their driving test before the licence is reissued).
Immediate driver licence suspension for any driver with blood alcohol levels exceeding 130mg/100ml or equivalent breath alcohol levels.
Agreed in principle to introduce an offence for being impaired by illicit drugs while in control of a vehicle that would include a provision within the Land Transport Act 1998 to require a driver to undergo a physical assessment of impairment to identify the level of illicit drug impairment that is likely to be comparable with the existing blood alcohol levels.
Most of the new measures will require legislative change before implementation.
3. Pursuits
A review of Police pursuits was commissioned this year by the Deputy Commissioner: Operations. The review has not yet been published but is nearing completion. The review takes a comprehensive view of Police pursuits in New Zealand and overseas over the last seven years including the management, legal implications and recent developments and makes a number of recommendations. These recommendations are still under consideration.
Background information on pursuits
Police make over 5 million contacts with the public each year.
There are around 3,000 vehicles in the Police fleet and they travel approximately 100 million kilometres per annum.
Police make about 3.5 million traffic stops per year.
In 2002, 0.02% of motorists failed to stop and a pursuit occurred. This is one in every 4,459 vehicles.
Pursuits increased from 446 in 1996 to 785 in 2002 (or from 1.2 pursuits a day to 2.2 per day).
There were 4,076 reported pursuits in the 7-year period 1996 to 2002 - an average of 582 each year.
The number and proportion of pursuits that are abandoned increased from 9% in 1996 to 16% in 2002.
The proportion of offenders apprehended decreased from 86% in 1997 to 75% in 2002.
Offenders tend to be male and young and to have criminal histories (55% of all pursuit offenders were aged between 15 and 24 years; and only 7% of offenders were female).
A large proportion of offenders are driving stolen vehicles.
The 2,739 offenders for whom criminal records were available had accumulated 60,404 criminal convictions between them (starting from 1954).
The average number of previous convictions for a single offender was 24. However, the median was 15 (a minimum of 1 and maximum of 267).
Friday, Saturday and Sunday are the most common days for pursuits.
48% of pursuits occurred in the 6-hour period 10pm to 4am.
Most pursuits are of short duration. The median length is 4 km, and three-quarters are under 10 km.
Motorcycle pursuits are more frequently abandoned compared with other vehicle pursuits (19% compared with 12% of other pursuits).
Road spikes were deployed in 4.7% (190) of pursuits, and had a success rate of 52%.
Overall, 34% of pursuits were associated with a "crash" by the offender (36% in 1996 and 32% in 2002).
Overall, 6% of pursuits between 1996 and 2002 were associated with a "crash" by police vehicle. This rate was highest in 1997, where a police crash was reported for 9% of pursuits. The proportion for 2001 and 2002 was 4%.
Motorcycle pursuits as a proportion of all pursuits have decreased over time - from 18% in 1996 to 10% in 2002.
4. Unmarked Cars Rolled Out
A total of 16 unmarked police vehicles will have been added to the police fleet by early 2004 with the aim of detecting serious careless and dangerous driving offences. The cars are being deployed to target drivers who modify their behaviour around marked police cars.
They will be driven only by Highway Patrol officers who have gone through the HP driver training course and have been authorised to drive unmarked cars in their district.
Enforcement tactics are quite different to using a marked patrol car. Police don’t expect a high detection rate but we are expecting the officers to be dealing with more serious road offending.
The cars are leased for three years and are funded centrally with the exception of crash repairs, which is a district responsibility. The performance of the unmarked cars will be closely monitored to see if the incidence of serious driving offences is reduced.
5. Road Policing Xmas Plans
Police prepared for heavy holiday traffic
Police in all districts will be out in force over the holiday period. With the high density of traffic, tired and stressed drivers and many families travelling long distances, the risks for all road users are higher at this time.
In the North Island the Police presence on State Highway One will be increased and this will continue over the entire holiday period.
Police will also be targeting holiday spots such as Raglan and Mt Maunganui with Traffic Alcohol Group (TAG) teams operating round the clock.
A joint initiative between the central districts of the North Island will target fatigue with traffic stops, billboards and advertising.
In the South Island, speed and alcohol will be targeted along with the dangers of fatigue.
The focus for all areas of the country will be on safe driving over and above any specific factor.
Public Messages
There will be an increased presence as police districts work together over Xmas summer period.
Highway Patrol rosters have been co-ordinated to provide maximum coverage at high volume times in cities and at holiday locations.
Booze buses will be working together in areas to provide maximum coverage.
Traffic cameras will be working with / co-ordinated with Highway Patrols.
If you see a camera it is likely there are mobile patrols in the area.
Urban road policing staff will work on state highways to assist (eg Wellington motorcycle staff will work SH1 and SH2 over Xmas period).
Holiday Hotspots - from Transit New Zealand
Roading hotspots to watch out for over the holidays are as follows (south to north):
SH6 and SH8 into Queenstown, Wanaka, Alexandra and Cromwell.
SH1 through Ashburton.
SH1 Waimakariri Bridge southbound lane closed because of damage to the bridge.
SH1 to and from the Picton ferry. Take plenty of time to get your sailing.
SH1 the Awatere Bridge south of Blenheim has new traffic lights - please obey them. There will still be delays with the volume of traffic through there.
SH1 through the Plimmerton and Paremata area. There are ongoing roadworks in the area.
SH1 through Paraparumu and Waikanae, passing lanes will be closed at peak traffic times.
Intersection of SH1 and SH3 at Sanson.
SH1 Bulls is a traditional refreshment stop - look out for people pulling out into the traffic.
SH2 Bay of Plenty , especially around Tauranga.
SH 25 Kopu Bridge. There will be more than double the usual number of vehicles crossing the Kopu Bridge during the holidays and delays of 20-60 minutes on this one-way bridge.
People heading from the Waikato for the Coromandel should go through Paeroa, because lights - there will be congestion. Obey the traffic lights.
For people travelling from Auckland an alternative route is available by taking SH2 to Paeroa, then SH26 to Thames.
SH2 Mangatawhiri passing lanes being closed at peak holiday times.
Sh1 and SH5 especially around Taupo.
SH 1 Bombay Hills - the junction of SH1 and SH2.
SH1 through Orewa, Warkworth and Wellsford. People are being asked to use SH16.
There will congestion round the Whangarei area, passing lanes will be closed at peak times.
Please note than an intensive re-sealing project is being carried out between Christmas and New Year at St Mary's Bay, Auckland. Some lanes might be closed. All will be well sign-posted.
Check for road information.
Holiday driving - safety tips from the LTSA
Vehicle preparation and packing
Have your vehicle checked before travelling. Many garages offer safety checks for tyre tread and pressure, lights, brakes, cooling systems and other components.
Make sure everything is securely stowed when you pack your vehicle. Even small objects can become dangerous missiles in the event of a sudden stop or a crash.
If you're towing a trailer or caravan, load heavy objects evenly over all of the axles.
Trailers and caravans
Check all towing attachments and make sure the couplings are compatible. Also remember to check the safety chain, trailer lights, tyres and brakes.
Remember that if you are towing a trailer your maximum speed limit on the open road is 80 km/h. Keep left and pull over when it is safe to let other vehicles pass.
Driver fatigue
Holiday driving often means spending several hours behind the wheel. Long journeys can be tiring, and fatigue can be fatal behind the wheel. There are some simple ways to avoid fatigue and improve your alertness.
Get plenty of sleep before your journey, and try to drive at times of the day when you are normally awake.
Take your time and plan for rest breaks every couple of hours. Get out of your vehicle and take a short walk or do some other exercise to get your blood flowing and improve alertness. If you feel tired, take a short nap (less than 40 minutes).
If possible, share the driving.
Don't drink and drive, and don't speed. Many fatigue-related crashes also involve these two factors.
Use air conditioning if your vehicle has it. Cool air will keep you more alert and will help avoid frustration and stress, which is a major cause of fatigue. Make sure your air conditioning is set to the "fresh air" mode.
Keep an eye out for kids
Watch out for children on the road. Young cyclists and pedestrians can be unpredictable and poor judges of vehicle speed. Young children may also be learning to ride new bikes over the holidays. Please respect cycle lanes.
Keep an eye out for learner drivers - the holidays are a popular time to learn to drive.
Keep your cool
Driving can be a frustrating experience at the best of times. Add in busy roads and stifling heat and your patience can evaporate very quickly. For safety's sake don't let that happen. There are simple and easy ways to keep your cool and stay in control.
Be courteous - let others merge into traffic and use your indicators before turning or changing lanes.
Keep left unless passing. If you're a slower driver, pull over when you can to let others pass.
Be patient and don't be provoked by other drivers' aggressive behaviour.
Buckle up
Too many family holidays are marred by tragedy when a crash occurs and people aren't properly restrained. It's the driver's responsibility to make sure that all passengers are wearing safety belts. The law requires children to be restrained in approved child seats suitable to their size and weight. There is a $150 fine for each person not buckled up.
Share the road
Traffic volumes increase significantly during the holidays. You will have to share the road with other cars, as well as heavy trucks, buses, campervans and vehicles towing boats or caravans. Keep the following points in mind:
Always keep a safe following distance between yourself and the vehicle in front. This gives you a safe stopping distance should the vehicle in front of you stop suddenly.
Be patient. Trucks and towing vehicles have lower speed limits. If you're travelling behind a slower vehicle, wait for a passing lane or until you can see clear road ahead of you and enough space to overtake safely.
After overtaking a larger vehicle, don't slow down quickly or cut in too closely. Larger vehicles take a longer time to brake and you could end up getting hit from behind.
District Road Policing Plans for Holiday Period
Central North Island
Bay of Plenty, Central, Waikato and Wellington Highway Patrol Units will be co-ordinating their efforts.
It is proposed to 'saturate' State Highway One between the Bombay Hills and Wellington North area. Hopefully the co-ordination of the four districts will create a highly visible Highway Patrol presence.
The Traffic Alcohol Group will be concentrating on the Coromandel area as well as the Raglan and Kawhia beach resorts over the Christmas/New Year period, as these are places where a lot of Aucklanders go to 'play in the sun'.
Another initiative in Bay of Plenty and Waikato, in conjunction with the Road Safety Co-ordinators and Environment Waikato Road Safety Co-ordinator, is aimed at tired drivers. The theme is 'Drowsy Drivers Die'.
This initiative takes the form of a 'cheque', which is handed out by staff operating on the state highway to people who appear to be fatigued or who admit to driving for long periods of time. The 'cheque' voucher is worth $4 and can be redeemed at a number of petrol stations along the state highway system from Waiouru to Pokeno.
We are also liaising with Transit NZ to have a number of billboards erected on the state highway in the Waikato with the message 'Drowsy Drivers Die'.
All staff will be working to cover the high volume of visitor traffic expected.
During the Xmas - New Year holiday period, staff will be rostered for policing the main state highways within the Canterbury District.
Christchurch STU will also assist with state highway coverage over this period.
Staff will be assigned to particular sections of the state highway network, and shall remain within their assigned patrol areas during their shift period so as to provide maximum visibility and deterrence.
State highways in and out of Christchurch are to be monitored with particular attention given to caravans, trailers, heavy trucks and other slow moving traffic holding up normal flows.
Full use of speed detection equipment and stationary radar or laser operating in known "black spots".
Unmarked HP vehicles will be fully deployed to focus on offences likely to result in serious trauma, and which are not easily detected by marked vehicles, eg dangerous driving, following too close, dangerous overtaking.
Particular attention will be paid to the following "high risk" manoeuvres carried out by drivers:
Crossing the centre line/failing to keep left.
Overtaking on yellow passing lines.
Overtaking another vehicle with insufficient clear road ahead.
Any driver travelling at unreasonably slow speed or impeding the flow of traffic will be stopped and a notice issued where appropriate.
The standard drink drive operations will be running over the Christmas / New Year period.
New speed camera areas will be operating throughout Otago.
A particular focus will be on drivers who cut corners and drift across the centre line.
Most small rural police stations now have Stalker radars and staff will be deploying these over this period.

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