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Published: 2010-12-03 00:00:00

Police and the Regional Transport Committee are urging motorists in the region to take extra special care as the Waikato’s road toll is already close to last year’s with still just under a month to go before the end of 2010.

Sixty-seven people died on roads in the greater Waikato region last year. As at yesterday, the toll so far for calendar 2010 was already at 61. Speed and alcohol continue to be the main “human” crash-related issues, often combined with young drivers using vehicles in breach of licence conditions, a recent report to the committee said.

Committee chairman Cr Norm Barker, of Environment Waikato, and Waikato road policing manager Leo Tooman said the statistics were a stark reminder of the need for increased caution on the roads as the holiday season approaches.

“Over the holiday season, many of us travel, attend parties and enjoy festivities with our friends, family and colleagues. Sadly though, every year at this time many families also lose loved ones as a result of fatigue, speed and drink driving-related crashes,” Cr Barker and Inspector Tooman said.
“So far this year more than 60 people have already died in the Waikato as a result of road crashes. That’s way too many. For each of those killed, hundreds more are left grieving their loss. Please spare a thought for the many thousands of people in our communities who will be suffering without their loved ones this Christmas.

“We’ve seen enough pain and suffering this year as a result of speeding, drugged, alcohol-impaired and fatigued drivers. We all have a responsibility to protect those we love by being fit to drive every time we get into a vehicle. If we each play our part we can all enjoy a summer free of any more road deaths.”

Cr Barker and Mr Tooman advised motorists to take extra care on journeys, to plan their trips and to take their time getting there.

“Rest before you go and take plenty of breaks along the way.”

They also had advice around holiday season parties.

“If you are hosting a party, make sure there is substantial food available along with a range of non-alcoholic drinks. If you are planning to drink, make sure you make suitable travel arrangements so that you can have a good time and still get home safely.

“Let’s help try and make it a truly Merry Christmas for everyone this year by being responsible and safe drivers.

“Together, we all need to keep firm downward pressure on the road toll in the Waikato.”

Waikato driving crash facts:

· Excessive speed is the cause of a quarter of all fatal crashes in the Waikato.

· Drugs and alcohol are factors in over a quarter of all fatal crashes in the Waikato. At the legal blood alcohol limit, a driver is about sixteen times as likely to be involved in a fatal crash as the same driver with a zero blood alcohol level.

· For every 100 drunk drivers or riders killed in road crashes, 55 of their passengers and another 35 sober road users die with them.

· Fatigue is responsible for an estimated 12 per cent of road deaths in the Waikato. Fatigue can be alleviated by resting well before journeys, taking regular breaks and powernaps, and sharing the driving.