The number of people killed in road traffic crashes in New Zealand reduced from 377 in 2018 to 353 in 2019, according to provisional data.

While still a tragic number, AA New Zealand says the reduction in lives lost is a step in the right direction.

“There is no good number of deaths on the roads – everyone would always want less – but after five years of increases it is very welcome to see less New Zealanders lose their lives in crashes in 2019,” said AA Motoring Affairs General Manager Mike Noon.

“It is a small but significant step in the right direction. Early on in the last decade we had three years where fewer than 300 people were killed on the roads, so we know it is possible.

“Hopefully this year’s reduction is just the start of a downward trend and we will have an even bigger fall in road deaths in 2020.”

Statistically, 2019 was an erratic year in New Zealand with the months of July and October both having the lowest number of road deaths ever recorded while other months like April and December had many more deaths than recent years.

Big differences between 2019 and the previous two years was less deaths among pedestrians, passengers and drivers. There were also substantially less deaths among 16-24 year olds.

“The Government launched a new road safety strategy right at the end of the year with a range of actions that it’s aiming to take to massively reduce harm on the roads,” said Noon.

“If we are going to achieve a big reduction in fatal and serious crashes then we need to be doing lots of things like improving and maintaining roads at large scale, intensifying the fight against impaired driving and lifting the standard of our vehicles, but it’s also up to all of us as individuals to do what we can.

“Crashes don’t just happen to bad and reckless drivers. The New Year is a good chance for people to ask themselves what is something they could do a bit better behind the wheel?

“If we can get all drivers to do better at simple things like keeping at least a two-second following distance, not using their phones or other distractions, driving to the conditions and being fully alert and focussed behind the wheel it will make a huge impact on safety.”