Horror smash ‘easily preventable’ says safety campaigner

This weekend’s horror smash between a car and a truck, which killed three people, would not have occurred if the road had been fitted with median barriers, says the car review website dogandlemon.com.

Road safety campaigner, Clive Matthew-Wilson, says he was ‘sickened’ after viewing the mangled wreckage.

“The road in question was wide and even, making median barrier installation straightforward. Yet there was no median barrier and now there are three more dead people.”

The accident was one of three accidents which occurred yesterday on the same stretch of road on SH1 at Atiamuri, possibly caused by a combination of ‘tar bleed’ and rain creating a slippery surface.

“A slippery road surface, combined with high volumes of pre-Christmas traffic and nothing separating opposing lanes of traffic makes it easy for a few seconds’ loss of control to cause a vehicle to slide into the opposing lane.”

“The government’s own studies show that median barriers are highly effective at preventing head-on collisions, so why does the government not prioritise their installation?”

A wire rope barrier was installed along a 10km stretch south of Paekakariki in 2005. In the 20 years before it was installed, head-on collisions claimed about 40 lives and around 120 people were seriously injured.


Since the wire rope median barrier was installed, the serious accidents stopped overnight.

Matthew-Wilson is also deeply concerned at the number of serious accidents involving trucks.

“Trucks make up just 2.5% of the vehicle fleet, yet, in 2014, 67 people died and a further 772 were injured in road crashes involving trucks. This was 23% of all deaths and 7% of all reported injuries on our roads.”

“I’m not attacking truck drivers, who are generally highly skilled and courteous to other motorists. I’m attacking the system that effectively pits cars and trucks against each other. Often the truck driver is not at fault, but when a car and a truck collide, size wins."

"In 1980, truck accidents made up about 12% of the road toll. That figure has since nearly doubled.”

“Obviously, we can’t do without essential services such as rural stock trucks and milk tankers, but we can do without most of the long-haul freight trucks using public roads.”

“Long haul freight trucks are not only a serious road hazard, but they’re often not necessary. The government’s own studies show that transporting goods by sea freight and rail is far more efficient than transporting goods by truck,.”

“If we moved long-haul freight onto rail, and electrified the network, we would drastically reduce the road toll, drastically reduce pollution and reduce the nation’s dependence on fossil fuels.” 



Three killed on slippery road, NZ Herald, 



Wire rope safety barriers, NZTA website. 

https://www.nzta.govt.nz/roadsandrail/ roadengineering/ roadsafetyhardware/ wireropesafetybarriers/ 


Evaluation of narrow median wire rope barrier installation on Centennial Highway, New Zealand

Marsh F, Pilgrim M. J. Australas. Coll. Road Saf. 2010; 21(2): 3441. 


Fleet makeup size, Road Transport Facts, Road Transport Forum http://www.rtfnz.co.nz/transportfacts/ fleetmakeupsize 


Trucks 2015, Ministry of Transport, http://www.transport.govt.nz/assets/Uploads/Research/Documents/Trucks2015. pdf 


Freight transport efficiency: a comparative study of coastal shipping, rail and road modes

2012,NZTA, research report 497 



7 In 2000, the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) calculated that

transporting goods by road used 3.1 million units of energy to move one ton of

goods one kilometre. By comparison, moving the same goods by rail used only 0.61

1 million units of energy, even allowing for the energy used when the trucks picked

up the goods at the railway station.