Half the year gone.
Firstly, my deepest sympathies if it is one of your loved ones who has been involved in any serious crash here in the Waitaki, or any other part of New Zealand.
Six months into the year, I thought the timing was right to give an update of what is happening on our Waitaki roads.
If ever there was a time to look forward and not back, it is now. It is difficult to compare this year’s figures with last year’s or even those of two or three years ago, because the circumstances are just so different.
This time last year we were just coming out of lockdown and Kiwis were being encouraged to explore their own backyard. Two years ago, we had international tourism.
What is clear is we are still having too many crashes. People are receiving serious injuries or being killed in Waitaki.
Since the start of the year, we have had two fatalities and nine people seriously hurt on our roads.
So, who has been involved in these crashes?
- Nine were male compared with two females.
- Six were aged under 35 and the other five were aged over 55.
- Five were drivers, while six were passengers.
- Ten injuries occurred on a state highway.
- Eight injuries occurred over a weekend, four of them during a holiday week (one at Easter and three at Queen’s Birthday weekend).
Last year, the Road to Zero strategy was launched by the Government.
Its first target is to reduce those killed or seriously injured on New Zealand roads by 40% in the next nine years.
What does that mean?
The reduction is based on the 2018 road statistics.
In the Waitaki district, during that period we had one death and 18 people seriously injured. So, a 40% reduction on those figures comes out at just over 11. We have unfortunately managed to achieve that figure already this year, not quite six months into it.
You can blame roads, weather and tourists all you want, but when it comes down to it, roads don’t crash, people do.
If the road is rough or flooded, slow down, drive to the circumstances and the situation you are faced with.
So, what can we do?
Without us standing up and having a conversation with our partner who is driving too fast, or our sons and daughters who use a phone when driving, we are not going to reduce the numbers who are being killed or seriously hurt in crashes.
I’m not saying it is going to be easy. I still remember when I was a policeman. I could criticise a person’s choice in a partner (not that I would), but questioning someone’s driving skills was like lighting the touch paper of a firework.
Are you brave enough to ask yourself if you take unnecessary risks when driving?
Let’s all drive safer, Waitaki.
Jason Evered is the Waitaki District Council’s road safety co-ordinator