23 December 2015
Surgeons from across New Zealand are urging caution and
restraint in regard to speed, alcohol and road safety awareness
this holiday season, in what is traditionally a busy time for
emergency departments across the country.
Chair of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS) New
Zealand Trauma Committee, Mr Li Hsee, says that end of year
festivities and an increase in the number of travellers on the road
will likely contribute to a number of accidents over the coming
"2015 has been a relatively bad year for road fatalities," Mr
Hsee said. "This time last year, 52 people were killed on New
Zealand roads in between December and January - 16 of which were
over the Christmas and New Year period alone."
On New Zealand roads, nearly one in three crashes involves speed
as a factor.
"Speed isn't just dangerous when a driver exceeds the legal
limit - driving too fast for the conditions also contributes to a
large number of crashes in New Zealand."
"Quite simply, the faster you drive, the more likely you are to
crash and the greater the risk of serious injury or death. When
speed is combined with alcohol, the chances of causing an accident
are considerably worse."
Every year, alcohol plays a large role in the number of road
fatalities in New Zealand, with one in four deaths involving
"The holidays are a time to celebrate with friends and family,
but please don't underestimate the danger of drinking and driving.
Even a small amount of alcohol can substantially increase the risk
of an accident."
RACS has also warned this year of other road-related dangers
such as driving and talking or texting on the phone, significant
factors in many crashes.
"Motorcyclists are also a high risk category for road trauma,
and even though the weather might be warming up, people should know
that in the event of a crash, around half of all injured riders
sustain leg injuries," Mr Hsee said.
"Protective clothing may not be as comfortable or stylish as
you'd like, but the New Zealand rate of motorcyclist deaths is
around 21 times the rate for car occupants.
"Motorcyclists are grossly over-represented in road trauma
statistics - around half of all injured riders sustain leg injuries
and protective clothing can make all the difference."
The financial cost of road trauma in New Zealand is more than $3
billion per year.
"The Royal Australasian College of Surgeons wishes everyone a
safe and happy holiday season this year. However if you are on the
roads, drive to the conditions, avoid distractions, and if you
do drink, please don't drive," Mr Hsee said.
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