Window washer in crash saga
Wellington’s illegal car window washers are again in hot water after one caused a crash, which left two cars badly damaged at one of the city’s hotspots.
Roadside window washing was made illegal under the Land Transport Amendment Act in August, enabling police to issue a $150 fine to offenders.
But on Friday, motorist Raj Narayanan was hit from behind after he braked suddenly to avoid hitting a washer who had dashed through moving traffic at the intersection of Karo Drive (State Highway 1) and Willis St.
Narayanan said the man ran in front of his vehicle while trying to get off the road when the lights turned green after he had washed a car in another lane.
Narayanan’s Mercedes-Benz sustained a bent chassis and broken bumper, while the front of the other vehicle ‘‘folded like paper’’.
Police confirmed the window washer was the cause of the accident, but he or she had left the scene when police arrived a short time later.
Narayanan said the incident highlighted the wider problem of window washers annoying drivers in Wellington.
‘‘It’s not just me but thousands of other drivers who these guys are bothering, because they can be quite aggressive,’’ he said.
‘‘This is about the safety of drivers. If a car hits a pedestrian, normally the car driver gets blamed, irrespective of what happens, unless proved otherwise.’’
Narayanan had lodged a claim with his insurance company and it was unclear whether he would need to pay for the damage.
The driver of the other vehicle was deflecting liability, also blaming the window washer, he said.
A police spokeswoman said while window washing was illegal, officers had discretion on whether or not to enforce penalties.
Police would usually only act if the situation was deemed to be unsafe, or they had received a complaint, the spokeswoman said.
Wellington’s other roadside windscreen cleaning hotspots are at the intersections of Adelaide Rd and John St in Newtown, and Vivian St and Cambridge Terrace in the central city.
Wellington City Council spokesman Richard MacLean said the council received a ‘‘steady stream’’ of complaints from drivers – about one or two a week.
The issue came up every year or two but there was not a lot the council could do because it did not deal with ‘‘moving traffic offences’’, he added.
‘‘If the window washers are genuinely causing traffic danger, then the police can deal with them, and they have done.’’
It appeared most drivers found them irritating, although there also seemed to be a certain demand for them, McLean said.
‘‘It’s something where quite a few people in the motoring community are quite happy to pay over some money to get their windows washed, otherwise they wouldn’t be there because they wouldn’t be making any money.’’
Insurance Council of New Zealand chief executive Tim Grafton said anyone involved in a car accident should take as many photos as possible and contact their insurer straight away.
Insurance companies generally took into account police reports when assessing liability, Grafton said.
Raj Narayanan’s Mercedes Benz was hit from behind after he braked suddenly to avoid a Wellington window washer and, below the car that tail-ended his vehicle.