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SH2 barrier averts disaster

A witness to a vehicle slamming into SH2’s ‘cheese cutter’ at Clareville yesterday is thanking his lucky stars and crediting the recently installed safety barrier for the fact he is still alive.

The crash happened at 10am yesterday, between Somerset Rd and Neiches Lane on the northbound lane of SH2.

Police were called to the scene, and a spokesperson confirmed that the vehicle that hit the barrier involved suffered extensive damage.

Alan – a witness to the crash who wanted to keep his last name private – was travelling southbound and said he saw the vehicle “barrelling along into the barrier” at such a speed that the nose of the car wedged through the wire.

“If he had continued, he would have hit the back of the car in front of me and probably driven into me,” Alan said.

“It would have been a nasty, head-on crash.”

Estimating that the vehicle that crashed was travelling at over 100kmph, Alan believed that without the barrier the crash would have proved fatal.

A motorbike rider, Alan said he hadn’t been a fan of ‘cheese cutters’ in the past due to the injuries he had witnessed from motorcyclists hitting the wires.

However, he’s now singing the praises about NZTA’s safety improvements.

“Never thought you’d hear a motorcyclist supporting the safety barriers, but this one kept me alive,” Alan said.

“I’m quite sure it would have been a fatal crash if the ‘cheese cutters’ weren’t there.

“It felt scary as hell.”

An OIA request to NZTA last year revealed that there were 554 crashes on SH2 between Masterton and Featherston between January 2010 and August 2021.

Out of these, travel speed contributed to five of 37 serious or fatal crashes.

A spokesperson for NZTA said speed affects the severity of all crashes and can make a colossal difference to the outcome of a crash.

“Even when speed doesn’t cause the crash, it is what will most likely determine whether anyone is killed, injured, or walks away unharmed.”

The spokesperson confirmed yesterday’s crash did not cause a road closure and said Wellington Transport Alliance staff checked the incident scene, reporting no damage to the median barrier.

The barrier was installed by NZTA during 2023 as part of wider safety improvements to SH2, and repairs took place in October last year to sections of the barrier damaged by cars hitting it.

When it came to the function of the safety barrier, the spokesperson said that they give drivers who lose control or drift across the centre line a second chance.

“When a vehicle hits a barrier, the high-tension wire cables flex, slowing down the vehicle and keeping it upright during and after a collision.

“Flexible road safety barriers are designed so they don’t penetrate the passenger compartment of a vehicle.”

“They are also designed so a vehicle is not deflected into another traffic lane.”

According to NZTA, the barriers are cost-effective, and research shows a 70-80 per cent reduction in road fatalities when they are installed.


  1. Will the cheese cutter may have saved a head on crash and a metal one would have done the same the difference being a motorcycle list would be dead. A metal barrier is safer for all road users.

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Bella Cleary
Bella Cleary
Bella Cleary is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age, originally hailing from Wellington. She is interested in social issues and writes about the local arts and culture scene.

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