Cop says state high­way’s driv­ers are dan­ger­ous

Franklin County News - - YOUR LOCAL NEWS - NATALIE POLLEY

A se­nior Pukekohe po­lice­man is point­ing the fin­ger at Franklin driv­ers, as the Au­to­mo­bile As­so­ci­a­tion dubs State High­way 22 the most dan­ger­ous state high­way in New Zealand.

Sergeant Dean Bor­rell, of Counties Manukau South Po­lice, said most crashes on the stretch of road that runs from Pukekohe to Drury were caused by bad driver de­ci­sions.

Bor­rell was backed up by lo­cal work­ers who use the no­to­ri­ous high­way daily.

State High­way 22 (SH22) con­nects Pukekohe to SH1, at the Drury In­ter­change, via Karaka Rd and Paer­ata Rd.

The AA, ear­lier this week, sin­gled out state high­ways need­ing a sig­nif­i­cant and ur­gent cash in­jec­tion to keep Kiwi driv­ers safe. Roughly 40 per cent of the coun­try’s state high­way net­work has a twostar safety rat­ing, which means they fea­ture haz­ards such as nar­row shoul­ders, slant­ing sur­faces, and ditches run­ning along­side them.

And when tak­ing into ac­count all risk fac­tors, the most dan­ger­ous road on the AA’s list was SH22 from Drury to Pukekohe, which had an es­ti­mated like­li­hood of 0.39 deaths or se­ri­ous in­juries (DSI) per kilo­me­tre each year.

Sergeant Bor­rell said he had at­tended many crashes on the road over the years and most were caused by driv­ers go­ing too fast, tak­ing cor­ners in­cor­rectly or pulling out into traf­fic.

‘‘It is not dan­ger­ous in de­sign, it sim­ply car­ries a mas­sively big­ger vol­ume of traf­fic than it was ever de­signed for,’’ he said.

Bor­rell said a no­to­ri­ously bad area was the Black­bridge Rd in­ter­sec­tion at Karaka where cars tried to turn across traf­fic trav­el­ling at 100kmh, in the few gaps. He said the Waiuku turn-off was just as bad.

‘‘Again cars turn across traf­fic in the few gaps avail­able. [Driv­ers make] poor de­ci­sions on the pass­ing lanes where driv­ers travel well over the speed limit and end up over the yel­low lines at the end of the pass­ing lanes.

‘‘All to gain one or two spa­ces in the queue - hav­ing risked their and oth­ers’ lives.’’

Bor­rell said it would help if slower driv­ers moved to the left where it was safe, to al­low more con­sis­tent traf­fic flows.

‘‘Driv­ers should al­low more time to travel and be more pa­tient. There is nowhere safe to pass.’’

Simon Wat­son, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor, of NZ Hot­house which is lo­cated at 328 Karaka Rd, said he told his staff to be pa­tient while driv­ing on the busy road.

‘‘It’s bet­ter to be late, than be in an ac­ci­dent,’’ he said.

The busi­ness has been oper­at­ing on the road since 1999 and in that time, Wat­son said he had seen a mas­sive in­crease in traf­fic.

He said the morn­ings were hec­tic, along with the 4.30pm till 6.30pm ‘‘re­verse rush hour’’.

‘‘There used to be a pass­ing lane de­signed to han­dle un­der­pow­ered trucks 30 years ago that has now been taken out,’’ Wat­son said. ‘‘It was taken out a few years ago and that helped us. Once cars hit our gate, they were go­ing tremen­dous speeds and still on the wrong side of the road.’’

Jenny Lither­land from Drury said on Franklin County News’ page, she drove the stretch of road of­ten. ‘‘The con­di­tion of the road is good and the night light­ing is great but some driv­ers are either too fast and im­pa­tient, or too slow, and do not pull over to let oth­ers pass safely. The danger is the driv­ing abil­ity of some driv­ers.’’

Lither­land said it was dan­ger­ous over­tak­ing, es­pe­cially head­ing up the hill past the golf course, that was a fac­tor.

‘‘Driv­ing at the be­gin­ning of Paer­ata Rd can ex­ceed 100kmh some­times, and yet it is a 70kmh zone. Over­tak­ing on dou­ble yel­low lines along this stretch of road is not un­usual either.’’

Karaka School’s of­fice man­ager Deb­bie Withers said she had seen nu­mer­ous ac­ci­dents out­side the school on Black­bridge Rd, just off the high­way.

‘‘When I’m pulling out at night I have to wait 10 to 15 min­utes to get [onto SH22],’’ she said. ‘‘And cars are go­ing 100km. Par­ents [of school chil­dren] have the same prob­lem.’’

She said she would sup­port a low­er­ing of the speed limit on the high­way.

Bor­rell said there were long-term plans to im­prove the high­way’s safety. ‘‘I know long-term there are plans to im­prove the two in­ter­sec­tions I men­tioned with rounda-bouts; and one day a new four-lane road may be built.’’

Ian Litch­field, gen­eral man­ager of Pukekohe Golf Club lo­cated on SH22, said he had been try­ing to work with NZTA since he started run­ning the busi­ness over seven years ago. He be­lieves it’s the road that’s the prob­lem.

He said the club’s lo­ca­tion, on the crest of a hill by a pass­ing lane, made it tricky for mem­bers to ac­cess the club when turn­ing right in and out of the club and onto the high­way. ‘‘I’ve seen sev­eral ac­ci­dents, near misses and lots of ar­gu­ments,’’ he said.

Litch­field said he would like to see a round-a-bout built at the Waiuku turn-off. ‘‘But they need to get rid of the pass­ing lane. It’s too short and you can’t see the finish.’’

*What do the Hunua gen­eral elec­tion can­di­dates think needs to be done. See Tues­day’s Franklin County News.

State High­way 22 near the Pukekohe Golf Club.

Dean Bor­rell.

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