Nine deaths add to year’s high road toll

The Horowhenua Mail - - FRONT PAGE - MIRI SCHROETER AND KIRSTY LAWRENCE

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.

PHOTO: WAR­WICK SMITH/STUFF

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.

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