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.

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