New Zealand police say 17 people died on the country’s roads during the holidays, which ran from 4 p.m. on Dec. 24 until 6 a.m. on Jan. 5. The number of fatalities is up from the 11 deaths during last year’s holiday.
Authorities say many of the deaths could have been avoided. Whānau (family) and friends who lost loved ones in crashes should have been able to enjoy the holidays with them, not planning their funerals, Assistant Commissioner Bruce O’Brien said in a news release.
“The impact on whānau, friends and communities cannot be measured when someone is killed in a road crash,” O’Brien said. “It’s also incredibly frustrating for Police to see people losing their lives in completely preventable incidents.
Police said they plan to continue to have a visible presence on roads across New Zealand this summer, taking enforcement action where necessary. But they warned motorists they have the responsibility to keep themselves, their passengers and other road users safe.
“Watch your speed and following distances, pay attention to the conditions, stop and take a break if you’re feeling tired,” O’Brien said. “Don’t drink or take drugs and drive, wear a seatbelt, put your phone away and allow plenty of time to get where you are going- especially if you are travelling on roads you don’t know.
“We don’t want to see any more families impacted by tragedy this summer and we need all road users to play their part in getting everyone home safely,” O’Brien added.