Coro­ner urges warn­ing


Peo­ple who have been drink­ing, and those around them, have no abil­ity to ac­cu­rately as­sess the de­gree of a driver’s level of in­tox­i­ca­tion or abil­ity to drive, a coro­ner has warned.

In his re­port into the death of Moss­burn man Don­ald Robert Morighan, Coro­ner David Robin­son rec­om­mended the NZ Trans­port Agency and Min­istry of Trans­port pub­li­cise the warn­ing.

Morighan died in Dunedin Hospi­tal on Novem­ber 17, 2015 from a trau­matic brain in­jury af­ter crash­ing his ve­hi­cle at the in­ter­sec­tion of State High­way 97 and Ac­ton Downs Road.

He recorded a blood al­co­hol level of 146mg four hours af­ter the crash, nearly three times the le­gal limit. Cannabis was also de­tected in his blood sam­ple.

The Coro­ner’s re­port into the death was re­leased on Septem­ber 20.

A crash an­a­lyst iden­ti­fied fa­tigue as be­ing a po­ten­tial cause of the crash, but a text mes­sage was re­ceived on Morighan’s cell­phone just min­utes be­fore the crash and the Coro­ner said it was pos­si­ble he had been dis­tracted.

‘‘It has all the hall­marks of the fac­tors that have been long iden­ti­fied, and well pub­li­cised.

‘‘It in­volves al­co­hol im­paired driv­ing (and po­ten­tially drug im­paired driv­ing), fa­tigue, driv­ing at ex­ces­sive speed, and in a man­ner not re­flect­ing the road con­di­tions.’’

The Coro­ner was also crit­i­cal of those who de­cided to al­low Morighan to drive.

NZTA road safety direc­tor Harry Wil­son said the agency had a multi-me­dia cam­paign un­der­way which aimed to ed­u­cate peo­ple and in par­tic­u­lar young men to the ef­fects of al­co­hol on driv­ing and im­paired judg­ment.

‘‘It also of­fers ideas and ways to keep peo­ple safe on our roads when we be­lieve a driver may be af­fected by drugs or al­co­hol.

‘‘In this crash the young man was not wear­ing a seat belt, and the po­lice in par­tic­u­lar, as well as other road safety groups and the Trans­port Agency, stress the need to buckle up and stay buck­led up.’’

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