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Browse the 1966 Encyclopaedia of New Zealand
Graphic: An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand 1966.


This information was published in 1966 in An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock. It has not been corrected and will not be updated.

Up-to-date information can be found elsewhere in Te Ara.



Causes of Accidents

Traffic accidents which result in injury to any person must be reported to the police, and a report on each of these accidents is forwarded to the Transport Department. From these reports statistics of accidents are compiled, and the table below sets out the main causes of accidents reported.

Factors Stated as Main Causes of Accident

Causes Number of Accidents
Drivers' faults:
Failure to yield right of way at an 1,698
Inattention or attention diverted 1,211
Excessive speed 976
Failure to keep left 612
Overtaking faults 432
Failure to comply with traffic signs and signals 364
Following too closely 323
Intoxicated 304
Turning suddenly 237
Other drivers' faults 2,073
Faults of pedal cyclist 615
Faults of pedestrians 1,105
Mechanical faults in motor vehicles 475
Mechanical faults in pedal cycles 49
Road conditions 342
Weather conditions 102
Miscellaneous and unknown 418

Detailed research into traffic accidents both in New Zealand and overseas has shown that rarely can an accident be attributed to a single cause. Most accidents are the product of a number of factors operating together – for instance, a tired driver, smooth tyres, a slightly slippery road surface, light rain, and dazzling headlights might all be causes of one accident. If one of these factors had been corrected, then the accident would have been avoided. The natural tendency is to look for a driving fault when investigating an accident, but it is likely (and studies have confirmed) that factors such as road conditions, weather, and mechanical faults are considerably more important than the statistics given above would show.