New Zealand’s Dangerous Roads


Stuff’s interactive NZ black spots map, click to use

Planning a visit to New Zealand and unaware of the high number of serious accidents on its poor roads? though, to be fair its not just the roads that are dangerous, the high number of DUI drivers may be partly to blame.

New Zealand has the second highest country in the world for deaths resulting from car occupant collision with car, pick-up truck or van (per capita) with 35.6877 deaths per million people. Way ahead of the USA which is ranked 15, Australia 17 and UK 37. The estimated social cost to New Zealand is $4,000 million dollars.

It’s been a while since we’ve blogged about the daily tragedies on New Zealand’s dangerous roads and we’re aware of the high number of RTA fatalities involving overseas tourists there. These include more recently Connor Hayes and  Joanna Lam, and the Boston University students  Daniela Rosanna Lekhno, Roch Jauberty and Austin Brashears, who died when their car lost traction on gravel at the side of the road,  and the many others whose names are never released. (Another blog  Apartheid Fort New Zealand diligently keeps tally on their “Proudly killed in New Zealand” page if you want to find out more).

Overseas News Report

Whilst headlines such as this one are commonplace in the NZ press,you may not come across them so easily when planning your motoring holiday around New Zealand.

Safety Warning after Tourist Deaths

“Tourists are being reminded to take care on New Zealand’s windy, hilly roads after the death of seven young people in the central North Island in recent months.

Four Argentine men, all in their 20s, were killed on Wednesday night near National Park when their car smashed head-on into a logging truck…” source

Drunk, drugged – and they still drive

“Drunk and stoned drivers are killing and injuring people on Waikato roads at a higher rate than the densely populated regions of Auckland, Wellington, Canterbury and Otago…” source

The news site has produced an interactive map of New Zealand’s accident black spots, if you’re planning a trip or thinking about emigrating you’d may like to take a look at it. Below the map is the last three years of data from which you’ll see that seldom a day goes by where there are no  people involved in serious crashes (To view the map click on the image of it above).

Under Reporting

But that’s not the whole story. Official Statistics for serious road injuries may be unreliable. A report by the internationally renowned University of Otago compared police crash reports to hospital discharge data and concluded that injuries were often wrongly classified by police. They estimated that approximately 15% of injuries incorrectly classified as minor were actually life threatening.

In one NZTA report the number of serious injuries reported by police was compared to the number of people admitted to hospital with serious injuries. For the whole of the country only 34% of serious accidents were reported by police in 2008, the lowest areas for reporting were Northland 31%, Auckland 16%, Bay of Plenty 27%, Gisborne 26% and Manawatu-Wanganui 34%. The highest reporting was in Wellington at 64%. Therefore we suggest that any official data for serious injuries be treated with caution.

Additional information

Posts about New Zealand’s dangerous roads and ‘accident’ black spots click HERE and see our ROAD CRASH DATA page

Britain’s foreign office has issued a travel advisory about NZ’s RTAs

One Too Many Cyclists Killed On New Zealand’s Roads – updated

New Zealand Herald’s Road Accidents Archive

NZ’s roads described as ‘killing fields’ after 14 fatalities over ANZAC weekend

67 Boy Racers Taken Off the Streets of Christchurch

New Zealand’s dangerous roads

4 thoughts on “New Zealand’s Dangerous Roads

  1. There is a very good reason that New Zealand has such a shocking level of read deaths: the roads are simply unsafe and do not match international standards for the speeds people drive on them.

    There is a rule in road policing known as the 30/50/70 rule. These are the speeds you have a 90% chance of survival if a collision occurs.

    30 kmph for a pedestrian.
    50 kmph for a side collision.
    70 kmph for a head on collision with a stationery object.

    For every 5 kmph over these speeds the chance of survival halves.

    This means that in order for a road to be safe for travel at 100 kmph (the open road speed limit) it MUST be designed to eliminate all chance of a head on collision. It must have side walls AND a center wall, there cannot be any chance of a car colliding with a tree, power pole, or anything else by the side of the road, or straying into the path of incoming traffic. Without side and center walls a road is unfit for travel at 100 kmph.

    This means that the majority of the roads in New Zealand, by international standards, are unsafe, and should be driven on at no more than 70 kmph.

  2. It does indeed. My son was sent down to visit relatives as well, from one small city to another small city not too far away, and almost missed his connection. This was not on Naked Bus. Luckily, the connecting bus was held up for another reason, and by running around asking strange people, he was able to make it at the last minute before the bus left. But he wandered around a few blocks of a strange city first, not knowing where to go, despite having instructions, a printout from his family at home, and a rough mutter and point by the driver. It frightened him enough that he did not wish to travel by bus again. Strangers in the area of bus stations are never, even in New Zealand, the most refined sort. I think they should have some more signage about schedules. It is unfortunate too that one no longer finds public phones anywhere, or even clocks, due to everyone having cellphones. In some countries, you might find caring people inquiring or assisting if they saw a lost child or teen at a bus station. I know as a mum, I’d have my worry radar beeping if I saw something like that. They tend to prefer not to stick their noses or necks out in New Zealand. Good in some respects for those who enjoy their privacy or dislike interacting with others. For those of us who prefer being more connected, it’s a lonely place to live.

  3. Not really a dangerous road/driver topic, but a story about the buses.
    We’ve used Naked bus for our daughter [attending uni in Auckland] before with no ill effects.
    So, when our son was to take a trip up to Auckland to see his sister for Labor Day weekend, we figured that this carrier would be OK.
    We put him on the bus early in the morning, heading to Rotorua where he’s supposed to change buses after an hour layover. I get a txt from him saying that he couldn’t find the bus that he was supposed to board, and missed his connection. Naked does not mark, paint signs on, put stickers on all of their buses, and there is no labeled/marked loading area for their buses either, so they are hard to identify or locate. Also, seems non of the drivers take the 10-15 seconds to anounce “Naked bus leaving for Auckland”, so they are hard to locate.
    My son then talks to the Naked bus people in the isite, and they tell him that he can use his same ticket for a later bus at 5:30. So, he waits for the 5:30 bus, another 5 hour wait. In the mean time, 4 Intercity [another carrier] has 4 buses leave for Auckland. We figure that everything is under control, so we wait to hear back from our son, telling him to get out and question every driver he can see to make sure he does not miss the 5:30. As late as 5:15, he is told that he can get on the Naked bus to Auckland. Then, the bus is ready to leave [at 5:45, a little late] and the driver says “No, there is no room”, and leaves. Now, if Naked bus had told him/us that there would be no room, we could’ve gotten him on one of the other buses to Auckland, but now the isite was to close in 15 minutes, and our son was a 4 hour drive away, stranded in a town where we knew no one.
    Fortunately, the people that run the isite were kind enough to take him in [to their home] and then bring him back the following morning to put him on an Intercity bus for Auckland.
    We were aghast, thinking that this was a serious breech of trust, buisness practice, public safety…only to find out that this happens ALL THE TIME with this carrier, there is even a facebook page
    So, not only are the roads dangerous, the transport/bus system can leave you high and dry. This is a common occurance with Naked bus.
    The cost savings [if any] over the other carrier is not worth being left, as you’ll probably have to pay for transport when you get left to complete your trip. And the safety factor, I’ve read stories where people have had to hitch-hike from where they’d been left.

    I’d like to say “I’m shocked”, but stuff like this happens all the time.

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