Drivers cross centreline in trio of fatals
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.”