By Mick Jensen
One person dies on Canterbury roads every nine days and there are 17 crashes every day in the region.
Those stark facts and other road crash statistics and advice were presented by the district’s highest ranking policeman, Senior Sergeant Phil Dean, at a public seminar in Ashburton on Monday.
The social costs of a crash were estimated at $1.3m per day, he told a gathering of around 20.
He said people and speed were the biggest contributors to road accidents.
Of the 8000 deaths on New Zealand roads over the last 20 years, some 99.9 per cent had been caused by driver behaviour in the vehicle.
Just two were caused by the road itself and a further five by a vehicle problem.
Sen Sgt Dean said the age group from 15 to 25 years was involved in the highest numbers of road fatals, but that group also had the highest number of drivers on the road.
Complacency was a big issue for drivers who had gained their licences some years ago, whereas the current graduated licensing system helped produce “better” new drivers.
“Some 96 per cent of drivers on our roads wear seat belts, but of the 4 per cent who don’t, 40 per cent of them are involved with fatals,” he said.
Police actively targeted drivers who did not wear restraints, or were impaired by alcohol, drugs or fatigue.
They also targeted people distracted by the likes of cell phones and those breaking speed limits.
“I have zero quotas to fill in my job because my job is to police the laws of the land.
“Statistics clearly show that increasing the enforcement activity on roads brings down crash rates. When that activity is reduced, crash rates go up.”
For the 2015 year in Canterbury, 100,000 road violation tickets were issued, 62,000 of them related to speeding.
Sen Sgt Dean said drivers should drive to the road conditions, slow down when necessary and keep to their side of the road.
He said just 6 per cent of all crashes on New Zealand roads were caused by non-New Zealand licence holders and over half of the total lived in the vicinity of where the crash occurred.