New Zealand Shows Spurt In Road Accident Deaths: International Study Expresses Concern Over Its Escalation

By @diplomatist10 on
A car involved in a Staten Island crash on March 20, 2015
IN PHOTO: A car involved in a Staten Island crash is pictured on a NYPD truck at the accident area in New York, March 20, 2015. According to city officials, one city police officer and a civilian were killed in the fatal crash involving a truck and a car on a Staten Island road. Reuters/Eduardo Munoz

Despite the economic boom and soaring tourist arrivals, New Zealand is facing a worst spike in road accident deaths, with 2014 having recorded higher number of road deaths among the countries in the developed world.

According to a report by the International Transport Forum or ITF, New Zealand was among the eight member countries that failed to curb the rising fatalities on their roads in 2014. The data was released at the ITF's annual summit in the German city of Leipzig on May 27.

Norms Tightened

Describing the report on 2014 road toll as "disappointing," Transport Minister Simon Bridges said the figures are indeed worrying, but comparatively lower than the figures from the past decades. However, there will be no let up in the vigil. According to the minister, many rules have been tightened for ensuring road safety, including child restraints and a lower drink-drive limit. Also, the norms for driver licensing have been tightened and mandatory electronic stability control for imported cars has been enforced. "We'll continue to push on a number of fronts because we don't want to see a blip turn into a trend when, to date, the trend has been very positive,” added Bridges.

What is significant is that New Zealand’s road toll had shown a 60-year decline at 254 deaths in 2013 before the fatalities jumped to 295 in 2014, according to the data. New Zealand's 16 percent spurt in fatal road accidents was the worst among the 28 countries, which provided data to the ITF. Hungary came next with its road deaths having increased 5.9 percent. For New Zealand, even 2015 is not offering much comfort. As of 27 May, there were 134 road deaths compared to 123 during the same period in 2014.

Reduction in Australia

Unlike New Zealand, Australia experienced a decline in road deaths and its toll was down from 1187 to 1156. Among the countries, the United States had the highest number of road deaths at 32,000 and the fatality rate in U.S was 10.9 per 100,000 of population, reported New Zealand Herald.

Globally, road fatalities have fallen and that trend has been very pronounced in 2014. Over all, there was a 42 percent decrease in road accidents across all ITF member countries since 2000, according to Jose Viegas, ITF Secretary-General. He attributed the declining trend to the economic downturn which gripped many countries in 2008 even though improvements in road safety were minimal. According to Viegas, the downturn held back many people from driving private vehicles to cut costs, leading to a reduction in road deaths between 2008 and 2010.

(For feedback/comments, contact the writer at k.kumar@ibtimes.com.au)