Multiple fatality blamed on unsafe road

A lack of safety features on the notorious Desert Road in the central North island was directly responsible for today’s triple fatality, says the car review website

Editor Clive Matthew-Wilson, who is an outspoken road safety campaigner, says today’s accident was a typical example of what happens when roads aren’t properly built and managed.

“You have snow and ice, a driver unfamiliar with the conditions, a truck, and a lack of median barrier. The end result is three dead bodies.”

“If the road had been closed, this accident wouldn’t have happened. If the road had had a centre median barrier, this accident wouldn’t have happened. And, quite likely, if the victims had hit something other than a truck, then this accident might have been far less serious.”

“We don’t need more road safety messages from the police; what we need is for the government to step up and change the roads, so that simple mistakes don’t turn into multiple fatalities.”

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.

“It’s outrageous that most of New Zealand’s main roads still have nothing to stop cars colliding. It’s outrageous that an icy road is left open when it should have been closed. It’s outrageous that the government deliberately favours the trucking industry over rail, when a quarter of the road toll involves trucks.”

Matthew-Wilson adds: “It would be great if no driver was ever confused, tired or over-excited. However, the reality is, people make mistakes, and frequently. Whether or not people die as a result of these common mistakes is ultimately down to the people who control our roads, which is to say: the government.”