Win­dow washer in crash saga

The Dominion Post - - News - DAMIAN GE­ORGE

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.

PHO­TOS: RAJ NARAYANAN

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.

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