Technology best defence against yobbo drivers, says campaigner


Yesterdays’ fatal crash in central Auckland[1], where a speeding car hit a tree, killing a teenage boy, could probably have been avoided on a well-designed road, says the car review website

“Reckless driving that results in death always prompts calls for greater penalties and other acts of revenge. However if we’re serious about saving lives, we need to focus on stopping stupid behaviour turning into tragedy.”

Electronic Stability Control was specifically designed to help prevent accidents of this kind. Unfortunately, due to the age of the car involved in the accident, it didn’t have this essential safety feature.”

More importantly, Matthew-Wilson believes that appropriate road design would have prevented, or at least minimised the effects of Sunday’s accident.

“While it appears that the vehicle in Sunday’s accident was racing, there have been plenty of accidents in this same spot that can’t be blamed on reckless driving. The bend on this road changes shape halfway through, which has led to a number of drivers losing control, especially in the wet.”

“I personally witnessed an almost identical accident in exactly the same spot about fifteen yeas ago, where a car lost control, spun around and hit the same tree.

“Fifteen years ago, that tree was young, and the car easily knocked it over as it spun out of control. The tree in today's accident was grown up, and was therefore less forgiving.”

“A mature tree is a solid, unmoving object.  Modern cars have side airbags to protect the occupants in a collision of this kind. Side airbags were never fitted to the car in this accident.”

“If the trees in that high risk spot had been replaced by a fence, it’s highly likely that this accident would not have been fatal. It’s also astonishing that no steps have been taken to protect pedestrians from cars that lose control on this dangerous stretch of road.”

Matthew-Wilson says the key to reducing road deaths is to focus on what works, rather than developing ‘a lynch mob mentality’ towards high risk drivers.

Matthew-Wilson points to the government’s own Safer Journeys strategy:

Safer Journeys recognises that people make mistakes and are vulnerable in a crash... We need to improve the safety of all parts of the system - roads and roadsides, speeds, vehicles and road use - so that if one part fails, other parts will still protect the people involved.[2]” 


[1] 'Rest easy brother': Friends remember teen killed in central Auckland crash, 18 January 2016, NZ Herald: