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Tāmaki Makaurau – Police have sent out their first pre-Christmas safety driving message, after six people died on New Zealand’s roads in four separate crashes at the weekend.

Assistant commissioner of police Bruce O’Brien says all the accidents could have been avoided.

Our biggest challenge is that police messages are not getting through to motorists on how to avoid crashes. Police can’t stop road crashes alone. Motorists also need to play their part.

The weekend fatal crashes are under investigation so police cannot comment on the causes. But history suggests that it’s the same factors time and time again resulting in deaths and trauma on our roads.

Even when speed doesn’t cause a crash, it is the single biggest determinant in whether you and your passengers walk away or are carried away. Less speed means less harm.

Science tells police us that just a 1km/hr decrease in mean speeds across the board equates to between a 4-6 percent reduction in fatal crashes.

In today’s numbers, that means a potential saving of approximately 16 lives nationally. That’s a huge risk motorists can avoid with a small reduction in speed. It was also wet in some parts of the country and that may have had an impact.

Driving to the conditions in wet weather means:

•            If it’s wet enough to put the wipers on, it makes sense to put headlights on as well.

•            Slow down.  It helps to brake more gently to give motorists enough time to react and retain control of the vehicle.

•            It takes longer to stop in the rain.

•            Move back from the vehicle in front to increase the stopping distance.

•            Remember to buckle up and don’t get behind the wheel when you’re too tired to drive – or allow yourself to be distracted.

Put the cellphone away and make sure everyone in the car has the appropriate restraints on.

Alcohol and / or drugs are a factor in about a third of all fatal crashes. For those wanting to enjoy a few drinks, find a sober driver.

Drivers will see more checkpoints all summer, so if motorists are stopped by police, no matter what time of day or the reason, they can expect to be breath tested.

Police officers will be out in force anytime, anywhere to deter unsafe driving behaviour. They are working together with Waka Kotahi and the Ministry of Transport on the road to zero campaign to prevent road deaths.

The most important message police want to convey is really simple: don’t risk a life by driving while impaired in any way.

Road safety is everyone’s responsibility and if motorists should call 111 is they see unsafe driving behaviour.