Ex­plor­ing ways to re­duce the crash rate

Matamata Chronicle - - Conversations - PHILLIPA YALDEN

‘‘I would like to see more round­abouts on high­ways so we have safer in­ter­sec­tions.’’

More round­abouts and com­pul­sory third party in­surance could help re­duce the re­gion’s road toll, ac­cord­ing to one crash an­a­lyst.

Waikato po­lice Se­ri­ous Crash In­ves­ti­ga­tor Jerry Newell be­lieves any T-in­ter­sec­tion on a high­way is a ‘‘fa­tal­ity wait­ing to hap­pen’’.

‘‘I would like to see more round­abouts on high­ways so we have safer in­ter­sec­tions.’’

‘‘Ve­hi­cles are much weaker on their side. If you get a t-bone crash on a high­way you are likely to get a death.’’

Each week there are 70 crashes in the Waikato, five of those re­sult in death or se­ri­ous in­jury.

An es­ti­mated 30 per cent oc­cur at cross in­ter­sec­tions. Those in­ter­sec­tions were par­tic­u­larly con­fus­ing for tourist driv­ers, Newell said, point­ing to the re­cent spate of crashes on SH29 on the road to Hob­biton.

Other roads in­clud­ing SH27 at Swamp Road and the deadly in­ter­sec­tion at Wait­omo Caves Rd and State High­way 3 had both been re­designed in the wake of fa­tal­i­ties.

Waikato Speed Man­age­ment Project Gov­er­nance Group Chair Leo Tooman said for­mal consultation to lower the speed limit on the road to Wait­omo Caves will start soon.

Mata­mata-Pi­ako District Coun­cil has also con­sid­ered a reduction in the speed limit on roads around Hob­biton, said Tooman, but at this time has de­cided more ac­tion around driver be­hav­iour, road sig­nage and mark­ings is more ap­pro­pri­ate.

Over cor­rec­tion was an­other killer on the Waikato roads with a to­tal of 90 per cent of speed re­lated crashes were due to loss of con­trol.

‘‘What hap­pens a lot is peo­ple put a wheel in the verge – they might be tired or dis­tracted – they steer out the verge and make an over cor­rec­tion, head­ing to­wards the wrong lane, caus­ing them to col­lide side on,’’ said Newell.

Com­pul­sory third party in­surance for young driv­ers could also make a dif­fer­ence, said Newell, with 25 per cent of fa­tal crashes in­volv­ing driv­ers between 17 and 25 years.

‘‘If you have been driv­ing for years and have hun­dreds of hours be­hind you, driv­ing be­comes au­to­matic, but in the early part you re­ally have to con­cen­trate on the me­chan­ics of driv­ing the car.’’

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