Unforgiving roads a major factor in holiday road toll

At least half of the holiday road deaths might not have occurred on a well-built roading system, says the car review website dogandlemon.com.

Editor Clive Matthew-Wilson, who is an active road safety campaigner, says a large number of accidents involved a simple loss of control that turned into a preventable tragedy.

Drivers, especially tourists and older drivers frequently make simple mistakes. Yet on our unforgiving roads, these mistakes often end in tragedy.”

On Christmas day, French tourist Remi Morilleau, 37, died near Whangarei after his rental car crossed the centre line and collided with other vehicles[1]. He had arrived in the country only a few hours before. Morilleau’s crash happened just north of where a 64-year-old Englishman, who had also arrived in the country on the same day, died after a similar head-on collision on November 4[2].

On January 3, Monty Broughton, 68, of Taupo, died after his vehicle left the road and went into a ditch[3].

On Boxing Day, Ngatokorua Tangimataiti, 80, and her 57-year-old daughter Are Tito died in a head-on crash south of Tokoroa[4].

A study by Monash University[5] of the effectiveness of roadside fencing and median barriers concluded that: “reductions of up to 90% in death and serious injury can be achieved, with no evidence of increased road trauma for motorcyclists.”

Matthew-Wilson describes many New Zealand roads as being like “a staircase without a handrail – you make the slightest mistake, you’re likely to get hurt.”

Matthew-Wilson believes that it’s largely pointless to try and prevent accidents by asking people to drive safely.

Most of the people who died over Christmas were not reckless drivers. They were ordinary people who made simple mistakes. Thirty years of studies show that asking people to drive safely is an expensive waste of time.[6]

Let’s refocus on what works, before more lives are needlessly lost.”


[1]    French tourist died on first day in NZ  http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11567837

[4]    One dead after crash near Rotorua (see fatal crash summary) http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11569397

[5]    Flexible barrier systems along high-speed roads: A life-saving opportunity, Larsson, M., Candappa, N.L., and Corben, B.F http://www.monash.edu/__data/assets/pdf_file/0005/216806/muarc210.pdf

[6]    A Comedy of Errors, Matthew-Wilson, C, 2015 http://dogandlemon.com/sites/default/files/A%20Comedy%20of%20Errors.pdf