Driv­ers cross cen­tre­line in trio of fa­tals

The New Zealand Herald - - News - Kiri Gille­spie

Agriev­ing grand­mother’s heart has gone out to the truck driv­ers in­volved in three fa­tal crashes, one of which claimed the life of her grand­son.

On Mon­day last week, Steven Hart, 35, died when the car he was driv­ing crashed into a large truck on State High­way 2.

On Wed­nes­day, Gis­borne man Te Hokinga Mai Katipa, 30, died in a crash in SH29 in the Kaimai Range and on Thurs­day two peo­ple were killed near Puke­hina on SH2. Their names are yet to be re­leased.

Each of the three crashes fol­lowed a sim­i­lar pat­tern.

Western Bay of Plenty area com­man­der In­spec­tor Clif­ford Pax­ton told the Bay of Plenty Times in each crash, the car in­volved crossed the cen­tre­line and into the path of the truck.

“In each case, the mat­ter will be re­ferred to the coro­ner.”

Pax­ton said po­lice couldn’t com­ment fur­ther on the specifics of each crash and it would now be up to the coro­ner to make a de­ter­mi­na­tion.

Coun­selling was of­fered to the driv­ers but Hart’s grand­mother said some­times, this only went so far.

Sue Col­lier, a re­tired bus driver, said she had a lot of sym­pa­thy for truck­ies and op­er­a­tors of other heavy ve­hi­cles in­volved in such crashes and the trauma from such crashes could be far-reach­ing.

“For heavy ve­hi­cles driv­ers, the im­pact of ac­ci­dents like that is that whole fam­i­lies are af­fected. The driver, even when they know there’s noth­ing they could have done dif­fer­ently, they still feel re­spon­si­ble, and that not only im­pacts them but their fam­i­lies too”.

Col­lier said mo­torists, in gen­eral, were be­com­ing dan­ger­ously com­pla­cent on New Zealand roads.

“My hus­band and I were bus driv­ers for 75 years be­tween us. Def­i­nitely road [mo­torists] have changed.

“Peo­ple have no re­spect for the heavy ve­hi­cles [or for] the dan­gers of the road. They seem to be trust­ing in the safety of their ve­hi­cle rather than us­ing their brain,” she said.

Last month, truckie Wayne Pru­jean wit­nessed a ute driver try­ing to over­take him at more than 90km/ h into on­com­ing traf­fic while trav­el­ling on SH2 be­tween Pon­gakawa and Paen­garoa. The footage was recorded on dash­cam.

Pru­jean, who could not be reached be­fore pub­li­ca­tion, said at the time it was “one of the worst near-misses I’ve seen”.

“Peo­ple don’t un­der­stand how dan­ger­ous it is for a truck to sud­denly slam on its brakes,” he said.

“I have an H on the back but peo­ple don’t seem to un­der­stand it means . . . I’m a lot heav­ier and longer than most trucks.”

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