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Published: 2003-04-08 00:00:00

Police will struggle to keep the road toll down over the next eight years because of the reduction in roading funding, Police representative Inspector Leo Tooman told this week’s Environment Waikato Regional Land Transport Committee meeting.

Her said the Waikato had had 15 fatal crashes so far this year compared with 10 at the same time last year and Police had identified a ‘headstone’ concept of categorising the causes of death, including speed, alcohol, inattention, seat belt wearing, dangerous overtaking and other factors.

If the number of deaths on the road was to be kept down to 300 by 2010 it would be up to the Land Transport Safety Authority and Police as there would not be money for roading improvements before 2012.

“You don’t get hurt parked in traffic on the Auckland motorway,” he said.

Heavy motor vehicles accounted for 21 percent of crashes, with 58 percent of heavy vehicles registered north of Taupo and the large volume of through traffic a factor.

Speed and not wearing seat belts were major factors, with fatigue a growing cause of crashes. Two people were killed recently by an unrestrained rear passenger killing both as he flew through the vehicle. All would have survived if he had worn a seatbelt.

Alcohol patrols were making an impact, especially catching offenders in the early hours of the morning. The female driver under 25 was starting to overtake the male driver as a drink drive offender, probably because of the type of RTD drink they favoured. While they may drink half the amount of a male, the alcohol content was very high.

The vast majority of those caught by the Booze Bus were repeat offenders, he said.

“We’re picking them at two in the afternoon as they go down to buy the second slab of the day.”

Drugs were another increasing crash factor, with so many different types available.

“Cannabis stays in the system for two weeks after smoking but it’s not known what effect it would still have. A recent drug could keep users awake for 14 days before they collapsed without warning,” he said.