Nine deaths add to year’s high road toll
Since the death of her grandson, Caroline Karatau’s life has not been the same.
He was meant to turn 35 this week. But instead of celebrating his life with him, his family spent his birthday at the site where he was killed.
Nathan Karatau died after his truck and another collided on Rangitikei Line about 10.15am on January 4.
He is one of 21 people killed on Manawatu-Whanganui roads in the first eight months of 2017.
This is half a dozen more than were killed in the entire year of 2016, with 15 deaths on the roads that year.
Caroline Karatau Nathan from a baby.
After being a truck driver for more than 10 years, he had his first crash, she said, and it was fatal. He died in Palmerston North Hospital that night.
Milestones were hard, with Father’s Day and his birthday both difficult for his five children.
Caroline Karatau said her biggest message to people was to be careful on the roads.
‘‘As a driver, you have to be aware of others.’’
There were 22 deaths on Manawatu-Whanganui roads in 2015, so this year’s toll is set to exceed that as well. raised
Police Inspector Brett Calkin said this year’s figures included nine roading deaths in August.
The recorded 21 fatalities this year, as at September 4, 2017, were a result of 17 crashes in Ruapehu, Whanganui, Rangitikei, Manawatu, Tararua and Horowhenua.
One crash involved a tractor, six involved trucks, including one where a child was sitting in a truck with no seatbelt on, and three involved people over 70 years old, Calkin said.
Eleven drivers, six passengers, three motorcyclists and one cyc- list were killed.
Nine of the people killed weren’t wearing seatbelts, Calkin said.
‘‘That is ridiculous. Most of those people would be alive today if they were wearing their seatbelts.’’
In Palmerston North, about 10 per cent of people travelling in vehicles didn’t wear seatbelts, Calkin said.
‘‘It’s a bit of a no-brainer. If you are not wearing your seatbelt and you have a crash, you increase your chance of serious injuries.’’
Another trend showed that eight of the 17 fatal crashes involved intersections.
The police had footage of one driver involved in a fatal crash who was looking at an electronic device before driving through an intersection without stopping, Calkin said.
NZ Transport Agency regional transport systems manager Ross I’Anson said improving layout was one way to make intersections safer.
This could be done by adding acceleration lanes or changing an intersection to a roundabout or traffic light stop.
Changing the speed limit could also be effective as it could reduce the risk of a crash and the risk of injury.
At a Horizons Regional Council transport meeting this week, transport services manager Phil Hindrup said the number of incorrectly installed car child restraints had also risen.
In road safety checkpoints from June 2016 to July 2017, 58 per cent of child restraints were incorrectly installed out of 2153 seats tested.
People laid flowers and notes at the intersection of Cambridge and McArthur streets in Levin, which was the scene of a horrific crash in July.