Too many lives lost on the roads again in 2021

1 January 2022

Too many lives lost on the roads again in 2021

There has been little improvement on road deaths in New Zealand this year, with 319 people having been killed in crashes.

“In the last 60 years there has only been three when New Zealand has had less than 300 annual road deaths, which were all early last decade,” says AA Policy and Research Manager Simon Douglas.

“Even with the pandemic and lockdowns of the last two years we have sadly and disappointingly not been able to get back below that mark of 300 annual road deaths.”

NZ road deaths over last decade


While the country appears to have turned around the trend of increasing road deaths that took place from 2013 to 2017, we could and should be doing better in terms of road safety.

“Some people would point out that the population and amount of vehicles on the roads have grown in the last decade which will have an impact on crash numbers and that’s true,” says Simon.

“But if we look across to Australia they were on track to have about 4.4 road deaths per 100,000 people this year while New Zealand had 6.3.

“There is no reason why our roads shouldn’t be as safe as Australia’s and if they were we would have had nearly 100 less deaths this year.”

Which leaves the question of what do we need to do to reduce our road deaths? The AA would say that is actually two questions.

One part is what  the Government and authorities can do, and some of the key things the AA continues to call for are:

•Upgrading high-risk roads and key highways with barriers and other safety improvements

•Investing more in road maintenance to keep roads up to standard

•Speed reductions by authorities being targeted in high-risk areas and fitting the road environment

•Bringing the number of alcohol tests back up to previous levels and introducing roadside drug testing

•ensuring all high-risk drink drivers are getting alcohol interlocks in their cars

•getting more people into safer vehicles

•ensuring young people are getting the support they need to learn to drive safely.

The other question is what we can all do as individuals out on the roads. Past AA Research Foundation work has shown that while half of fatal crashes involve extreme and reckless behaviour, the other half involve everyday people having a momentary lapse or mistake.

“No one is perfect and we could all find at least one thing to do better on the roads this year,” says Simon.

“For some drivers that might be making sure they keep a bigger following distance, for others it might be slowing their speed to the conditions, or it could be not using your phone behind the wheel or not carrying on driving when they are feeling tired.

“The AA would encourage every driver to aim to make one change to be a bit safer behind the wheel in 2022. If all of us did that, it would make a real difference in how safe our roads are.”

For more information contact:

Simon Douglas

Motoring Affairs Policy and Research Manager
M: 021 607 647

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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