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Government must act on accident gridlocks

National Police spokesman

13 July 2004

Government must act on accident gridlocks

The Police are between a rock and a hard place in clearing traffic accidents, and the Government needs to urgently set up a taskforce to improve procedures, says National Police spokesman Tony Ryall.

"With increasing congestion, particularly in Auckland, the problem is going to get much worse" he says. "Police are faced with the tough job of balancing their duty to investigate to the satisfaction of the courts and avoiding the huge disruption caused by road closures."

An accident in Auckland yesterday caused huge traffic delays. Police are reported to be sceptical of new 3D imaging equipment that Transit hopes can speed up clearance. It maps and records the crash site and the position of vehicles.

"The Government is failing to grasp both the number and the impact of traffic accident blockages, particularly in the main centres," Mr Ryall says. "Without prompt action, the sort of gridlock seen in Auckland yesterday will become an even more common occurrence.

"The Government must launch a major review of the accident-clearing protocols. It should involve not only the Police, Transit and local government, but also judicial, motoring and road transport interests.

"Why hasn't the Government moved sooner to ensure that the imaging technology is proven? Technology has a major part to play. The Government should be telling the Police and roading authorities to agree on equipment that will meet the legal requirements. We have top-notch imaging technology companies in this country and they should be involved in this.

"We must keep drivers informed of problems ahead. Often, by the time they get to the trouble spot, it is too late to choose another route.

"We also need to get rescue teams and specialists to the site faster. In Victoria, it is routine for investigators and coroners to be helicoptered into accident sites.

"Many of the incidents involve heavy-duty vehicles, which means lifting gear to get the vehicle off the road. This needs to be better co-ordinated as often this equipment also gets caught in the traffic snarl-up.

"The Government does not understand the huge social and economic costs to Auckland, in particular, from inadequate procedures. This neglect must end", Mr Ryall says.

ENDS

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