Mind the bend
It’s estimated that 40% of open road deaths are the result of loss of control on a bend; contributing factors include speed, fatigue and driver distraction.
Speed was an influence for the terrible fatality that happened on Christmas Day last year, when a single-vehicle crash on Clevedon-Kawakawa Rd left two dead.
Police reported that “Speed was a mega-factor as the vehicle came round a bend at absolute horrific rate of knots."
“Cornering at in appropriate speed exposes drivers to a number of obstacles ranging from other vehicles, trees to traffic lights, lampposts, walls and pedestrians. All of them are life threatening,” says Fergus.
We are simply not going to straighten out New Zealand’s highways one curve at a time. We need to provide drivers with information to help them chose the appropriate curve negotiation speed with improved advisory signage and delineation of out of context curves; managing the road surface maintenance to ensure adequate surface friction and manage the roadside hazards so that if mistakes occur and a vehicle does lose control the outcome is not necessarily death or serious injury.
While loss-of-control-off -road crashes are most common on the lower volume rural roads, those generally carrying less than 5500 vehicles per day, above this volume head-on crashes are more common. Unfortunately, these crashes more likely to result in death and serious injury. New Zealand should follow international best practice and limit speeds on these road until they can be engineered up and have central median barriers installed. These barriers have been shown to reduce these head-on crashes by up to 90%
According to Stuff, almost half of those killed over the holiday period weren’t wearing a seatbelt.
“We know the importance of wearing a seatbelt. However, this isn’t the first-time kiwis have been chastised for not using them,” says Fergus.
A 2018 partnership between AA Research, the Ministry of Transport, NZ Police, NZ Transport Agency and ACC found that, of all the deaths caused by car crashes 26% of victims were not wearing a seatbelt.
AA Research continued to look in-depth into 200 roadside deaths where people were not buckled up and found that 83% of fatalities happened on rural roads, and 35.5% involved fatigue.
“Although it’s not been confirmed whether the recent fatalities were drivers or passengers – it’s still crucial that all bodies a car takes safety seriously,” Fergus urges.