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Feb 17

Tragic Taranaki Road Fatality Statistics

Given it’s been almost two years since I last posted on this blog, it was always going to be something significant which got me back here.

Unfortunately it was the news of a member of our community who had died this week in a vehicle accident.

Since we moved to New Plymouth a few months ago it had seemed that we kept hearing about fatal car accidents and had witnessed several accidents (one of which we were part, fortunately that one had no injuries).

So I was left wondering whether Taranaki was an especially dangerous place to live and drive, or whether being a smaller community so just saw or came to hear of these incidents more quickly.

So I decided to spend a bit of time trying to collect the data.

The information of road fatalities per region was easily available (for past years and provisionally for 2019) from the Ministry of Transport.

It was a little hard to find the population estimates by region (since official numbers are only available in census years) but I eventually found these from the Department of Statistics.

I’m no Data Analyst or Statistician, so there is every chance I’ve misinterpreted the numbers or miscalculated the results, so I’ll walk through what I did before I cover the results.

I chose to compare Taranaki to four three others regions (Waikato, Southland and the Hawkes Bay) and New Zealand as a whole.

For each of these areas I put their annual fatalities into a spreadsheet with the population for that year and divided the fatalities by population to get a ‘per capita’ fatality rate.

For each of the comparisons I took the Taranaki per capita number, subtracted the other regions per capita number and then divided by the Taranaki number for a percentage higher or lower.

These are the results:

So with the exception of an amazingly good year in 2017 where Taranaki was safer than all the other regions (that I compared), only Waikato has been a more dangerous place to drive in recent years.

Most worryingly for me is that it seems it is getting worse, particularly in relation to the National average and is on track so far in 2020 to be broadly similar (two deaths already this year).

As a new resident of this region, I’d like to know (and I’m now going to start trying to find out) what is happening here to ensure that we actually have a better result than comparable regions like Southland and move closer towards the national average.

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