Associate Transport Minister Julie Anne Genter urges everyone to belt up this Easter.
"The number of deaths on our roads is heartbreaking. Last year, nearly a quarter (23% / 63 people) of all passenger vehicle fatalities involved people not wearing a seat belt - and I'm really disturbed our Police still encounter drivers who are not belting up, or securing their whanau.
"For most New Zealanders, seat belts come as second nature, but a persistent few are regularly putting their lives, and the lives of their passengers, at grave risk. This is a huge contributor to road deaths in New Zealand and recent crashes have demonstrated the devastating outcome of not belting up.
"As Minister with responsibility for road safety, delivering road safety outcomes that reduce, or eliminate, the number of lives lost or seriously injured in road crashes is my primary goal. Easter is one of the busiest holiday periods for traffic, so I urge everyone to stay focused, be patient and drive according to the conditions. I want everyone getting safely to and from their holiday destination this year.
"We know it's going to take a sustained effort to turn the number of road deaths and injuries around. That's why this Government has invested a record $1.4 billion over three years to upgrade over 1,500km of our most dangerous roads.
"This year, motorists will see upgrades like rumble strips and corner barriers being rolled out across 670 kilometres of our State Highway network.
"And by 2021, the NZ Transport Agency will have upgraded around 870 kilometres of high volume, high-risk State Highways. That means more median and side barriers, rumble strips, and shoulder widening.
"We're also preparing for the release of a new Vision Zero road safety strategy which outlines the meaningful steps New Zealand has to take to reduce deaths and serious injuries over the coming decade.
"Mistakes happen on our roads, but by making our roads safer and more forgiving of driver error we can ensure those mistakes don't turn into tragedies.
"This Easter, I'm urging everyone using the roads to follow the rules and use good judgement, take extra care at intersections, and watch out for other road users."
The official 2019 Easter holiday period runs from 4 pm Thursday 18 April until 6 am on Tuesday 23 April.
(With Inputs from New Zealand Government Press Release)