Alcohol’s big role in Mid Canterbury crashes


An Ashburton councillor is dismayed the influence of alcohol has been highlighted as part and parcel with serious road crashes in Mid Canterbury.

A police checkpoint at Mana, Wellington.

Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

Crashes causing injury or death have been steadily rising with alcohol playing a hand in more than half of the incidents recorded over the past five years.

The figures were absorbed by some Ashburton district councillors at last week’s Road Safety Coordinating Committee meeting.

A total of 46 serious crashes have been alcohol-related between 2016 and 2020, with poor observation the next most significant factor, contributing to 32 incidents.

Ashburton Ward councillor Diane Rawlinson says stupidity behind the wheel is never going to improve road statistics

Ashburton Ward councillor Diane Rawlinson says stupidity behind the wheel is never going to improve road statistics Photo: LDR/ Ashburton Guardian

Ashburton Ward councillor Diane Rawlinson said the numbers left her shocked.

“I was actually quite shocked that alcohol was way out in front,” she said.

“I’ve got an 18-year-old grandson and their wider group of semi-rural kids, who do a lot of driving, but they look out for each other and someone is always the safe driver.

“I probably dumbly assumed that all groups of young people do that.”

The road safety action plan 2020-21 report stated drivers aged between 20-29 remain as the dominant age group (39 percent) contributing to alcohol related crashes.

Road safety and alcohol have been tackled previously through campaigns run through the Ashburton Community Alcohol and Drug Service (ACADS) including the Community Alcohol Action Plan and the Driving Whilst Impaired programme.

Rawlinson also suggested people were also lacking vigilance behind the wheel.

“Stupidity is never going to bring the statistics down,” she said.

“It’s always going to add to it.”

Council’s road safety strategy for the next 10 years aims to reduce death and serious injuries on Ashburton roads by 40 percent.

“In reality, I don’t think we’ll ever get back to zero simply because of the way people drive.”

One in three death and serious injury (DSI) crashes have occurred at an intersection.

Drivers contributed to intersection crashes are divided evenly between male (56 percent) and females (44 percent).

Drivers aged between 16-29 represented as a high risk age group for DSI crashes (37 percent).

“Also, there has been a surge in crashes for drivers aged between 65-69.

“The most common movement category for young drivers are losing control on straight roads and on bends,” the report said.

There have been a total of eight deaths from four crashes this year compared to three deaths recorded in 2020.

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Local Democracy Reporting is a public interest news service supported by RNZ, the News Publishers’ Association and NZ On Air.

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