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1200 white crosses outside cathedral a graphic road-toll reminder

1 April 2004

Road safety is this year’s theme for World Health Day and, with Easter coming up, the message is timely.

On 7 April in Christchurch, around 1200 white crosses will be put up outside Christchurch Cathedral to highlight the issue of deaths on our roads. The crosses represent the 795 people who died in New Zealand in 1987 (the worst year’s toll in the  nearly 20 years the Road Safety Co-ordinating Committee has been working ) and the 404 deaths in 2002 (the lowest recorded road toll).
The day, organised by the World Heath Organisation and supported by the Christchurch City Council, will be marked by a ceremony at the Cathedral. Hundreds of white balloons will be released to the chiming bells of the Cathedral, representing lives saved because of community road-safety education.

“We want to celebrate the progress made towards reducing the number of needless deaths on our roads,” says Cr Ingrid Stonhill, Chair of the Road Safety Co-ordinating Committee. “Statistics show the road fatality rate has decreased by 37 per cent since 1990, at the same time as we’ve seen significant increases in population, vehicles and kilometres driven.”
“Because of community road safety interventions, there are hundreds of people alive today who can celebrate Easter with their families but we must remember that we still have a long way to go.”

The invited guests include Clayton Cosgrove, MP for Waimakariri representing the Prime Minister; the Very Reverend Peter Beck, Dean of the Christchurch Cathedral; Cr Stonhill; the Cathedral choir; and local school children. They will join other individuals and people from organisations committed to road safety in the grounds of the cathedral for the ceremony on Wednesday 7 April, at 12.30pm.

Photo opportunity: Reporters and photographers are invited to  the ceremony in front of the Christchurch Cathedral on Wednesday, 7 April at 12.30pm.

In 2003, 460 people were killed and 14,000 injured. Drink-driving was a factor in 30 per cent of the crashes in which someone died, and excessive speed was a factor in 35%. Nearly 27% of those killed last year were not wearing seat belts.

For more information, call Islay McLeod on 941 8255
More information about the World Health Day can be found at , and New Zealand statistics can be found at


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