New Zealand’s road safety record has been steadily improving for decades - with 284 people killed and close to 12,000 injured in 2011 compared to 843 deaths and 23,385 injuries in 1973.
However, our record is still worse than many other developed nations.
Continuing to improve our road safety record
In 2011 we had a road fatality rate of 6.4 deaths per 100,000 people. In Australia the rate was 5.7 deaths per 100,000 people while Sweden and the United Kingdom lead the developed world with rates of close to 3 deaths per 100,000 people.
If we could reduce our fatality rate to the same as Australia’s, 34 more people would have been left alive on our roads in 2011.
New Zealand has particular features that must be taken into account when looking at international comparisons – the geographical spread of our small population means we drive more than many other first world countries, and often on less safe roads and in older vehicles – but there is no doubt we can do better.
Aside from the cost to people, road crashes also cost the country dearly in terms of the economy. The social cost of crashes in 2010 was an estimated $4.15 billion, with every fatal crash judged to cost $4.3 million.
Reducing the number of people hurt on our roads will free up police and emergency services resources, lessen the burden on our health system and reduce costs for ACC as well as families and employers.