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Victim of serious crash: ‘It’s like Russian roulette’

The investigation is ongoing, but the victim of a serious crash in Carterton says the solution is clear, reduce the speed limit, or risk further injury and death.
“It’s simple physics – the faster you’re going the more horrific the impact.”
Isobel MacKinnon and her partner suffered serious injuries in a t-bone collision at the notorious Moreton and Rutland roads intersection earlier this year.
She said the most recent crash on August 8 looked “like a carbon copy” of theirs.
After dropping off her elderly mother-in-law, MacKinnon and her partner were driving home along Moreton Rd on March 7.
Shortly after 7pm a vehicle on Rutland Rd sailed through an intersection and into their path.
MacKinnon’s partner slammed on the brakes, but could not prevent what happened next.
The collision catapulted both cars through a fence, twisting metal, and shattering windows.
Photos of the crash show the airbags exploded on impact.
All three people involved suffered injuries and one person was taken to Wellington Hospital in a serious condition.
MacKinnon said the driver on Rutland Rd failed to look as they approached the intersection, accelerating through what was then a give-way sign.
Following the crash, the Carterton District Council changed the give-way signs on Rutland Rd, to stop signs, however, five months later, another failure to stop, another crash, and another person in hospital with broken bones.
Police said the investigation into MacKinnon’s crash is ongoing, and the matter will soon be before the court, however, the preliminary findings were grim.
“The Serious Crash Unit determined that my partner was able to shave 10kmh off the speed we were travelling in under a second when he saw that car shoot out in front of us,” MacKinnon said
“They’ve told us multiple times that that is likely what saved the life of the other driver.”
She said her partner was already driving more than 10kmh below the 100kmh speed limit when he hit the brakes.
MacKinnon was adamant that drivers on Rutland Rd should adhere to the road rules but thought relying on obedience alone, was akin to sanctioning Russian roulette.
She said the cause of accidents was drivers routinely, and recklessly, barrelling through the intersection without looking, and said locals witnessed near misses almost daily.
“It’s like a game of Russian roulette, the more times you get lucky the closer you get to your luck running out.
“I don’t think we can afford to say ‘people don’t obey the road rules, there’s nothing we can do!’
“We know there’s going to be another crash in that spot, probably before the end of the year, which is why the speed limit needs to be reduced to 50kmh until after passing Rutland Rd.”
As motorists reach the outskirts of Carterton travelling east along Moreton Rd the speed limit shifts from 50kmh to 100kmh, 100m later, the road intersects with Rutland Rd.
MacKinnon said while a lower speed limit was unlikely to prevent crashes entirely, it would reduce the severity of the injuries suffered by those who “win that horrible lottery”.
Waka Kotahi NZTA Crash Analysis System has recorded 10 crashes at the Moreton-Rutland intersection since 2004. The data does not include the two crashes this year.
Only two of those historical crashes were recorded as “non-injury” incidents. Two crashes were classified as “serious injury”.
Nine crashes happened in daylight, and five cars collided with the surrounding fence line.
MacKinnon’s crash demolished the fence on the northeast corner of the intersection. It has since been replaced, however, a gaping hole now exists on the southeast corner – a relic from the latest accident.
Staking out the intersection yesterday morning, the Times-Age counted close to 90 vehicles in an hour.
Between 8.20-9.20am 86 vehicles went through the intersection, 54 were travelling along Moreton Rd, while 32 approached from the north or south on Rutland Rd.
A third of the vehicles on Rutland Rd rolled through the intersection, and one vehicle was forced to accelerate through the stop sign to avoid a collision. Five of the cars travelling east from Carterton were going so fast they shook the Times-Age car, sitting just inside the 50km zone, as they passed.
Emergency services responding to the most recent crash said the intersection was a notorious black spot and a popular back road for people wishing to bypass State Highway 2.
However, the district council said its hands were tied to make further safety improvements.
Carterton District Council [CDC] said the intersection and roads met the criteria and safety standards required and had no plans for imminent change following the most recent crash.
It said it had received positive community feedback since safety upgrades were made in April, when, following MacKinnon’s crash, CDC changed the intersection from a priority give-way to a stop on Rutland Rd.
Signs warning of the upcoming stop were placed 200m out from the intersection.
The council did not concede more could have been done to prevent the 10 crashes prior to the upgrades.
“Crashes in this area usually come down to driver error. The council is restrained by what it can do if people are not adhering to the road rules.”
A spokesperson said an upcoming speed limit review would consider a possible speed reduction on both Moreton and Rutland roads.

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