Road toll rockets back to pre-pandemic levels

1 January 2023

Road toll rockets back to pre-pandemic levels

More needs to be done to reduce road deaths after the worst year of fatal crashes since 2018, says the Automobile Association.

The road toll has returned to pre-pandemic levels with provisional figures showing 377 people killed in crashes in 2022.

“We had a couple of years where we saw fewer deaths because of lockdowns and restrictions on movement through the Covid-19 response, but it seems we’re back to where we left off,” says AA road safety spokesperson Dylan Thomsen.

New Zealand road fatalities 2018 to 2022











The Government’s Road to Zero strategy set out a pathway to reduce fatalities by 40% between 2020 and 2030, however Dylan says interventions and initiatives are not being introduced quickly enough.

“The government has started lowering speed limits to reduce speed related harm in some areas, but road maintenance started falling behind years ago – it’s all started coming to a head with the spotlight being put on potholes this year.

“Improvements to our roads have also been too slow with the installation of protective upgrades like safety barriers well behind schedule.”

With a Road to Zero target of installing 1000km of safety barriers between 2020 and 2030, just 50km was added to New Zealand’s roads in the 2019/20 and 2020/21 financial years. The Australian state of Victoria installed more than 2000km of roadside barriers in four years and saw fatal and serious crash numbers nearly halve on the roads where they were added.

The breath alcohol screening programme has also underdelivered. In 2020/21 1.6 million tests were conducted – just over half the 3 million test target. Overall, screening rates have dropped significantly in recent years with police recording over 2.5 million tests just eight years ago in 2014/15.

“Alcohol testing is a visible deterrent to potential drink drivers, and a last line of defence against those who have decided to get behind the wheel after having too many,” Dylan says.


For more information contact:
Dylan Thomsen
Road safety spokesperson
New Zealand Automobile Association
M. 027 703 9935

The New Zealand Automobile Association is an incorporated society with more than 1.8 million Members. It represents the interests of road users who collectively pay more than $2 billion in taxes each year through fuels excise, road user charges and GST.

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