The Ministry has an interest in reports that seek to give a deeper understanding of how and why road trauma occurs on New Zealand roads.

On this page:


Why is the rate of annual road fatalities increasing? A unit record analysis of New Zealand data (2010–2017)

Recent increases in road crashes have reversed New Zealand’s formerly declining crash rates to produce annual fatal and serious injury counts that are 49% higher than the lowest rates achieved in 2013. Method: We model twenty-one factors in fatal and serious injury crashes, four years before and after 2013 using logistic regression. Three major factors are significantly different in the period after 2013, when crash rates increased: (1) alcohol as a cause, (2) learner licence holders, and (3) a regional effect for Auckland. Newly defined speed zones are a more common setting for crashes in the period of upturn but there is no coinciding elevated likelihood of ‘speed as a causal factor’. Three factors related to road safety were less common: aged under 25-years old, fatigue, and not wearing a seatbelt. Results: Results are compared to rates of prosecutions for alcohol-related driving offences over this period. It is possible that New Zealand’s successful road safety initiatives of the past have been undermined by reduced levels of enforcement and an unexpected outcome from the graduated driving licence system.

Download the report here(external link)

AA Report - Vehicle Occupants Not Wearing a Seatbelt

Research led by the AA provides valuable insight into understanding which groups of people are not wearing seatbelts.

The report, Vehicle occupants not wearing a seat belt: An analysis of fatalities and traffic offences in New Zealand, highlighted that up to 30 percent of car crash fatalities involved people not wearing a seatbelt.

The research was conducted to determine which groups of people identify as non-seatbelt users.

The findings showed that although young males, drivers in rural areas, and Māori are all over-represented, the seatbelt issue was surprisingly widespread.

People in rural areas, people driving for work, elderly people, tourists, and young people are also dying in crashes where one simple click could have saved their lives.

The research was led by the AA Research Foundation, in collaboration with the Ministry of Transport, New Zealand Transport Agency, ACC, and NZ Police. 

Download the Seat belt fatality report [PDF, 4.7 MB]

Down with Speed 

This 2000 report was a collaboration between ACC and the Land Transport Safety Authority. Excess and inappropriate speed on our roads is the single biggest road safety issue in New Zealand today. And yet the seriousness of speeding is still lost on many people.

Hundreds of New Zealanders are killed or injured each year, but many people openly admit to enjoying driving fast on the open road; a view which sadly seems to reflect a widespread tolerance of speeding as an acceptable social behaviour. There remains a deadly attitude to speeding that New Zealanders are taking to our roads.

This report dispels some myths, and provides information about speeding New Zealanders simply can’t afford to ignore.

Download the Down with speed report [PDF, 1.1 MB]

Fuel prices and road accident outcomes in New Zealand

Recent years have seen a spike in New Zealand’s road death toll, a phenomenon also seen in some other countries such as Australia. This paper analyses the short-run impact of fuel prices on road accident outcomes in New Zealand, including the numbers of road deaths, accidents, and injuries.

Using data for the period 1989–2017, we find a negative relationship between fuel prices and key road-risk outcome variables, including the number of road deaths. There are similar results for models in levels and first differences. The number of serious injuries to cyclists tends to increase when fuel prices are high, however. Lower fuel prices appear to have contributed to New Zealand’s recent uptick in road accidents, pushing against the long-term trend of improved road safety.

Download the Fuel prices and road accident outcomes in New Zealand report here [PDF, 1.8 MB]

Interim evaluation of Safer Journeys

Content to follow

Download the Interim evaluation of Safer Journeys [PDF, 1.6 MB]

ITF zero road deaths and serious injuries report

This is a report prepared by a working group of more than 30 road safety experts representing 24 countries and organisations convened by the International Transport Forum (ITF) between September 2014 and August 2016 (including New Zealand).

Building on the influential 2008 ITF report Towards Zero: Ambitious Road Safety Targets and the Safe System Approach [PDF, 5.2 MB], the working group drew upon the available published evidence and in particular material from the pioneering countries. While some evidence of the effectiveness of particular interventions exists and more is emerging, the evidence is still limited at the macro level, and the working group has endeavoured in particular to draw together the experiences of pioneering countries on this level to share in this report.

This report shares the experience of countries who have introduced some form of “Vision Zero” (as it is commonly called in Sweden, one of the pioneers) with a view to providing a framework for the implementation of integrated road safety policies with the potential to bring road safety performance closer to the ultimate aspiration. 

TERNZ Report - Why do People Die in Road Crashes?

The Ministry of Transport commissioned TERNZ Transport Research to analyse a sample of road crashes to get a better understanding of why people die in crashes.

The focus was not on the cause of the crash, but rather why there was an impact severe enough to result in death.

The analysis looked at:

  • the characteristics of the roadside
  • pre-crash speeds (related to impact severity, rather than the cause of the crash)
  • restraint or helmet use
  • vehicle characteristics
  • after crash medical care.

The report finds wearing seatbelts and helmets, the age and weight of vehicles, and speed are among the crucial factors in whether or not someone survives a crash

The findings of Why do People Die in Road Crashes have in part informed Safer Journeys, Government’s road safety strategy to 2020.

Download the TERNZ report [PDF, 212 KB]

Read about Safer Journeys Action Plan(external link)

Qualitative and Quantitative Analysis of the New Zealand number of road deaths

We know that over a long-term the New Zealand number of road deaths has been tracking down.  Tragically, however, we have seen an increase in the number of people killed on our roads since 2013. The reasons why the number of road deaths changes from year to year are extremely complex, with many possible causes.

To help better understand the reasons behind this increase in the number of road deaths, the Ministry of Transport  commissioned an independent qualitative and quantitative analysis of the number of road deaths.

Globally, trends in road fatalities are similar. In New Zealand there has been a 37 percent decrease in fatalities between 2000 and 2014, compared to a 42 percent decrease in fatalities in the 32 OECD countries over the same period.

New Zealand and 19 other OECD countries experienced a recent increase in fatalities. For example, 2015 saw a 15.4 percent increase in Israel compared to 2014; Finland,13.5 percent and Austria 10.5 percent.

Between 2015 and 2016, Australia also experienced an increase of 7.9 percent.

What are the key messages from the report?

Key findings from the report were:

  • Between 2014 and 2016, the New Zealand number of road deaths increased by 12 percent.
  • Over the long-term there has been a sustained decrease in the number of crashes since 2000.
  • Not every kilometre travelled on New Zealand’s roads is equal – as the number of vehicle kilometres travelled increase, the number of crashes resulting in death or injury more than proportionately increases. In addition, as the number of vehicle kilometres travelled increases, the likelihood that these crashes result in a death or serious injury increases. This means that as New Zealanders drive more, the risk of serious road crashes increases considerably.
  • More motorcycle registrations (indicating more motorcycles on the roads) disproportionately increases the number of overall road crashes resulting in injury. This reflects the relative vulnerability of motorcycles, which provide little protection in a crash. A new motorcycle on the road is also more likely to be involved in a crash that causes injury than a new car.

The factors that cause crashes and cause injuries are many and varied. For this reason, it is difficult to understand all the variation in road trauma. In this study, about a third of the short-term variation could not be explained by the factors investigated. This unexplained variation is likely to relate to factors unable to be measured and the random nature of crashes.

Qualitative and Quantitative Analysis of the New Zealand number of road deaths [PDF, 1.6 MB]

Quantitative analysis of the number of road deaths

The New Zealand number of road deaths decreased 24 percent - from 375 deaths in 2010, to 284 deaths in 2011. A mathematical and statistical analysis of the 2011 number of road deaths decrease was prepared.

View the analysis of potential factors behind the 2011 reduction in New Zealand road fatalities.

A statistical anlaysis of longer term trends in the number of road deaths has been done to help identify the contribution of different factors to the decrease in the number of road deaths since 1990

View the results of the preliminary analysis of number of road deaths trends [PDF, 311 KB]


Victoria report on a new traffic safety paradigm

Despite large traffic safety program investments, motor vehicle accidents continue to impose high social costs. Crash casualty rates have ended their long-term decline and recently started to increase. New strategies are needed to achieve ambitious traffic safety targets such as Vision Zero.

Recent research improves our understanding of factors that affect traffic risks and identifies new safety strategies. Applying this knowledge requires a paradigm shift. The current paradigm favours targeted safety programs that reduce special risks such as youth, senior and impaired driving.

A new paradigm recognizes that all vehicle travel imposes risks, and so supports vehicle travel reduction strategies such as more multimodal planning, efficient transport pricing, Smart Growth development policies, and Traffic Demand Management (TDM) programs.

Many of these strategies provide significant co-benefits, in addition to safety. This 2018 report examines our emerging understanding of traffic safety and strategies that can provide large benefits.


Website material for peer review of Deloitte report on the NZ number of road deaths

After receiving a third draft of the report commissioned from the Deloitte, the Ministry contracted Infometrics to complete an independant peer review.

After this was completed, the Ministry provided Deloitte with the key points of the peer review together for consideration when finalising its report.

A copy of the peer review is provided below

Peer review of the Qualitative and Quantitative Analysis of the New Zelaand Road Roll [PDF, 220 KB]