Waikato road toll bucks the national trend
While a lethal weekend of crashes has left the nation’s road toll on track to hit a seven-year high, the Waikato district is so far managing to buck the trend.
A Waikato mother and daughter and a 20-year-old Hamilton man were among the nine people killed over the weekend.
Another 10 were left seriously injured in crashes between Friday and early Monday, bringing the nation’s road toll to 292. That is 41 more lives lost than the 251 people killed in crashes at the same time last year - which then was the deadliest toll in five years.
At that rate, with three months to go, the toll is on track to reach its highest since 2010 after four consecutive years of increases.
But despite a national upward trend, the number of people killed on Waikato roads is down on the same time last year, Waikato road policing manager Inspector Marcus Lynam said.
There have been 30 road fatalities in the Waikato police authority to date this year. That’s 13 fewer than the 43 lives lost at the same time in 2016.
‘‘Nationally, it has been trending up, with a 16-per cent increase nationally on the year before, but pleasingly, Waikato is reversing that trend with a 30-per cent decrease year to date.’’
‘‘2016 was a particularly bad year in relation to deaths on Waikato roads. We had a number of crashes with multiple fatalities in each crash, which spiked our fatality rate.’’
At the same time in 2015, there were 31 deaths - on par with this year but up from the low point of 17 in 2013.
Overall, the Waikato’s road toll has risen year on year from 22 in 2013, 33 in 2014, 41 in 2015 and 56 in 2016.
‘‘We are focusing really heavily on high visibility of police on those high-crash risk areas and deploying staff into those areas.’’
‘‘Although we are seeing a decrease, we are coming into the summer season and we traditionally see an increase during the summer period.’’
Both crashes at the weekend involved drivers crossing the centre line, Lynam said. Gaylene Bell, 34, and her daughter Chanelle King, 17, died in a two-car crash on State Highway 3 north of Te Kuiti on Sunday afternoon. The pair were travelling in the same car when it crossed the centre line and collided with an oncoming car, Lynam said.
And on Saturday afternoon, Jordan Young died when he crossed the centre line crashing head-on into a Linfox truck and trailer unit on the Waikato Expressway at Tamahere.