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High Number Of Deaths On Highway

Short Stretch Of Highway Disproportionately Responsible For Number Of Deaths

New Zealand Police National News Release
11:31am 14 August 2008

A short stretch of highway is disproportionately responsible for the number of deaths on Canterbury roads. 63 km of SH 7 between Hanmer Springs and the Lewis Pass account for 10% of the fatalities on Canterbury State Highways and that is just during six months of the year. That is of real concern to Police.

During the months of July to December, over the three year period 2005 to 2007, State Highway 7 in North Canterbury has been over represented in the number of serious injury and fatal road crashes. Police are especially concerned about the high incidence of head-on crashes on the stretch of highway between the Hanmer Springs turnoff and the Lewis Pass, where six people have lost their lives.

"This is unacceptable", says Senior Constable Richard Parker of the Canterbury Highway Patrol. "Speed is a major factor which leads to many crashes, and certainly has a direct effect on the outcome of any crash regardless of cause. The faster you go the bigger the mess", he says.

Police enforcement in the area will be stepped up over the coming months, with specific emphasis on drivers who speed or fail to keep left. Often the speed limit is too fast for weather or road conditions, and many drivers are caught out when they enter a bend too quickly and drift across the centreline.

"Speed advisory signs are there for a reason", says Senior Constable Parker. "Driver fatigue and just plain bad driving are also major contributors to head-on crashes, and offending drivers can expect to be prosecuted."

With the summer months and holiday season approaching it is timely to remember that every life lost on the road will leave an empty seat at the Christmas table of a family somewhere.

"No family can afford to pay that price", says Richard Parker.

In the first two weekends of this operation 135 infringement notices have been issued, mostly for speed. The highest recorded speed was 162km/h, with a 20 year old West Coast man arrested for reckless driving and failing to stop for Police.

Total road deaths for Canterbury

2005 44

2006 33

2007 56

2008 to day 26

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