Road and water deaths down

January 1st, 2009 at 9:43 am by David Farrar

The 2008 road toll was 359, a 52 year low. The previous low in 1956 was at a time when there were one fifth the number of cars.

The Herald speculates increased fuel prices may have been a factor. They probably had some effect, but wouldn’t explain by itself the big dip from last year. However the best figure for international comparisons is the per 10 million kms of road travel, so it will be interesting to see that.

Meanwhile the Dom Post reports:

The death of a man in north Canterbury’s Hurunui River yesterday took the year’s drowning toll to 96. …

Last year was only the second year since records began in 1980 that the national drowning total has stayed under 100. Dropping from 181 a year in the 1980s, the annual toll over the past decade has been around 119, getting down to 91 in 2006.

But still some way to go:

New Zealand had an “awful” international record for drowning deaths, Water Safety New Zealand general manager Matt Claridge said.

It sat third in the world after Brazil and Finland, with twice as many deaths as Australia and triple Britain’s toll.

And this may not help:

He repeated a warning yesterday that there was a lot worse to come. Last month he said that, because compulsory swimming lessons at schools were phased out in the 1990s, annual drownings were expected to get up to 180 again by 2030.

“The prospects for the future are worrying. If people don’t have the skills or make the right decisions, we’ll see those numbers go back up.”

Pupils were taught to swim in school pools in the 1960s and 1970s, but about 239 pools had closed between 2002 and 2005.

I didn’t realise swimming was no longer part of primary school. A pity.

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10 Responses to “Road and water deaths down”

  1. Glutaemus Maximus (2,207 comments) says:

    “New Zealand had an “awful” international record for drowning deaths, Water Safety New Zealand general manager Matt Claridge said.”

    So if he is a GM, he will have a team of people working under him.

    What a Non Job.

    Bizarre, how these posts are created. When they could be sponsored by Corporates who make good money out of Quotas.

    The team rarely grows in those circumstances.

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  2. baxter (893 comments) says:

    he 2008 road toll was 359, a 52 year low……………..Maybe a case to increase the blood/alcohol tolerance. Then we could all go out and celebrate the reduced toll.

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  3. MT_Tinman (3,186 comments) says:

    The road toll is at an 52 year (with the increase in motor vehicles over that time an all time) low and yet the police were happy to claim just over a week ago that one driver in 200 was over the limit.

    About time these jumped up wanna-be storm troopers were told to police the law, not try to influence or create it and the bloody policy makers admitted that small amounts of alcohol were negligible in road casualty statistics which are much more dependent on road and vehicle construction.

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  4. Michael E (274 comments) says:

    My feeling on the drowning toll is that less people went swimming this year at faraway empty beaches and uncrowded rivers, just like people tended not to drive so far afield when petrol was over $2 a litre.

    I don’t see why swimming should no longer be compulsory at schools – while it’s a huge expense to the school to maintain a small 10 metre pool, most councils have 25 metre pools within a small distance. Our school didn’t have a pool and we used to have a group of parents who would run us to the council pool.

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  5. Sushi Goblin (419 comments) says:

    A far greater factor in the reducing road toll is the increasing level of safety of cars.

    When your average car now has two airbags minimum, safety cage, antilock brakes and traction control, there are fewer cars getting into accidents, and those that do are far more survivable.

    A head on collision between two cars both travelling at 70 kph would have inevitably involved multiple fatalities twenty years ago. Now, people survive such dreadful accidents thanks to airbags, crumple zones, and passive safety tools like better brakes which help decelerate cars from critical “death” speeds to slightly slower speeds on impact.

    Thus technology has been saving lives. From drum brakes to disc, better quality tyres, electronic driver aids, plus better and more solid construction has all played their parts. I doubt fuel prices would have had much to do with this at all.

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  6. Glutaemus Maximus (2,207 comments) says:

    Seat Belts are compulsory, and there is Drink Drive legislation in place.

    Life Jackets should be worn at all times when on the water, and Drink legislation transferred to all boats!

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  7. Patrick Starr (3,674 comments) says:

    “New Zealand had an “awful” international record for drowning deaths, ”

    not surprising with dickheads like these making frontpage headlines as if they are some kind of heros

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10550106

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  8. Brian Smaller (4,023 comments) says:

    Both my kids were at independent primary schools and they had swimming lessons.

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  9. stephen (4,063 comments) says:

    Both my kids were at independent primary schools and they had swimming lessons.

    Last month he said that, because compulsory swimming lessons at schools were phased out in the 1990s

    Obviously they’re a decade out of touch with national best-practice policies.

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  10. wikiriwhis business (4,002 comments) says:

    The police have certainly been caught out in their claims fines aren’t tax grabs.

    Most fines are in 50k areas where there are no accidents.

    the open road attracts less fines

    There is no correlation between fines and the road toll. We are all being fined for no reason.

    Road safety is not a consideration. Fines have not stopped the road toll.

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