Road traffic crashes within the Bay of Plenty region
Road traffic crashes within the Bay of Plenty region for 2013:
Trauma remains a major health burden in the Bay of Plenty with over 1500 trauma related admissions to BOP hospitals seen in 2013. The injuries incurred can be devastating and life-changing. Ten per cent of these admissions have directly resulted in death relating to these injuries. Trauma remains the leading cause of death between the ages of five and 45 not only locally, but internationally.
Trauma admissions to BOP hospitals have a significant proportion resulting from road crashes. Although deaths from road crashes are trending down internationally, they remain a major public health and community burden, with most occurring from preventable causes.
BOPDHB’s Trauma Service has a commitment to audit and research in order to make a difference for primary prevention within the local community. They have again reviewed the statistics from hospital admissions relating to trauma from road crashes.
The service aims to share information and form close partnerships with other government departments in order to effect change relating to injury and death from road traffic crashes by looking at similar data from different perspectives.
The BOPDHB and the police have a successful partnership in aiming to drive down trauma-related injuries. An example of which is the lowered crash rate seen at the crash hotspot identified in 2012’s report at the intersection at Rangiuru on SH2 and the turn off to Whakatane. This has seen a drastic reduction in road traffic crashes thanks to the lowering of the speed limit to 80 kmh. There were no hospital admissions with significant injury from road crashes from this site for 2013.
In 2013, there were 165 separate road crashes which occurred in the region over an 11-month period (1 January to 30 November 2013) that resulted in not only hospital presentation as a trauma call, but a hospital stay in excess of 24 hours. Driver error remains the number one cause of road traffic crashes within the BOP with, disappointingly, the usual culprits of excessive speed and alcohol being well represented. The 2013 statistics saw a large percentage of drivers crossing the centre line and falling asleep. Unfortunately many drivers and passengers still refrain from wearing a seatbelt which results in serious injury as a result from being ejected from the vehicle.
In 2013, the majority of crashes occurred within the Western BOP with few occurring in the Eastern BOP. Of the figures from Eastern BOP, most crashes occurred within Whakatane and Kawerau. Opotiki crash numbers were decreased in 2013 which is a pleasing result. Seventy seven of the 170 crashes occurred on rural roads.
The State Highways once again incurred large crash numbers, particularly the stretch of road between Te Puna Road and Wainui South Road. This area of SH2 saw the most crashes of those incurred on State Highways. Nine separate crashes occurred within this stretch of road with the crashes occurring between 9.30pm and 9am, the majority of which occurred after midnight and before 6am. Four of these crashes involved alcohol with three of these also combining excessive speeds. Three of these crashes occurred from the driver falling asleep. Only one was contributed to wet roading conditions. Two of the crashes involved multiple victims.
There were nine crashes resulting from medical conditions that all occurred within the urban area of Tauranga, Mount Maunganui and Papamoa. There was only one known crash that produced injuries significant enough for a hospital admission as a result from texting whilst driving and this too occurred within Tauranga.
There were 37 motorbike crashes within BOP this year with most riders wearing helmets. Many of these crashes were contributed to loss of traction from the back tyre whilst cornering and avoidance of objects such as other cars or animals. There were 18 incidents involving pedestrians being hit by moving vehicles. Seven of these pedestrians were intoxicated at the time. Other causes include hit and runs, pedestrian inattention, pedestrians unseen by drivers whilst reversing and intoxicated drivers.
Notably most of the crashes (108) occurred between 12 midday and 12 midnight with crash numbers peaking between midday and 6pm (63). The next high crash period occurred between 6pm and midnight (45). The period between midnight and 6am remains the lowest crash incidence time (22).
Serious injury involves an injury severity score (ISS) of greater than 15, and with that comes a greater risk of mortality and morbidity. There were 22 patients scoring above 15. 14 patients were brought to hospital with moderate injuries (ISS 11-14) and the rest of the patients incurred injuries with a score of 11 or less. The highest ISS scored was 43 which was a result from a head on collision where the driver crossed the centre line. Unfortunately there was also a fatality at this scene. This crash occurred on SH2. The next highest ISS occurred on SH35 and involved a driver under the influence of alcohol and employing excessive speeds.
The information for the review was taken from St John Ambulance records, the Midland DHB’s Regional Trauma System data sheets, ACC forms, hospital web based patient administration systems, and from patients themselves.
Summary of crashes and causes:
Majority relating to driver error (excessive speed, alcohol, falling asleep, crossing the centre line)
Crashes occur mostly on rural roads (77) with Tauranga next most common (33)
Low incidence of crashes in Eastern BOP.
Nine crashes from medical conditions.
Most crashes occur between 12 midday and 6pm.