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Wairarapa’s week-long Crashathon

GRAPHIC/STOCK.ADOBE.COM

Driver inattention plays ‘big hand’ in crashes

JOHN LAZO-RON and GRACE PRIOR

Wairarapa Automobile Association chairman Craig Bowyer has called for motorists to be more attentive and be further aware of road conditions after an influx of serious vehicle crashes across Wairarapa over the past week.

Nine crashes had been reported since last Monday causing traffic disruption, a power outage, and serious injuries.

A driver was seriously injured and airlifted to Wellington Hospital by the Life Flight Westpac rescue helicopter on Thursday morning after a collision with a cow.

A Fire and Emergency spokesperson said multiple brigades from Martinborough, Lake Ferry, and Greytown arrived to find one person unresponsive at the time.

The road remained closed near the intersection between Lake Ferry and Kahutara roads while the Police Serious Crash Unit investigated.

Police later confirmed that the cow died at the scene.

There was also a two-car collision in Greytown on Thursday morning, where one person was initially reported to have been trapped.

The crash that took place at about 6.30am and caused the road on State Highway 2 going through Greytown to be blocked.

One person was injured, and responders helped ambulance staff.

The road had reopened by 8.30am.

Another driver had been seriously injured after their car collided with a fence on Somerset Rd in Clareville on Monday evening.

Wellington Free Ambulance attended the incident transporting the driver to Wairarapa Hospital.

A Fire and Emergency spokesperson said the car “took out a bit of fence”.

In another crash just before 7pm on Monday, in neighbouring Carterton, a vehicle hit a power pole on Norfolk Rd, knocking out power for 247 Carterton residents.

The driver was thought to be unharmed in the crash.

Electricity supplier Powerco dispatched a field crew to the site to assess the damage. They said the pole had to be replaced after it had fallen on the car.

Power was restored to 132 residents by 7.50pm, while the remaining 115 had to wait close to midnight.

Traffic was also heavily disrupted on State Highway 2 in Featherston shortly after 11am on Tuesday after a two-car crash on the Remutaka Hill.

Traffic was down to one lane for close to three hours while police dealt with the crash.

No serious injuries were reported, and police thanked motorists for their patience while traffic was down to one lane.

Although the cause in any of the crashes has yet to be determined, Bowyer said he wouldn’t be surprised if “driver inattention” played a big hand in them.

“I think driver inattention, especially in low-speed areas, can be a major reason for these types of crashes,” he said.

“And by that, I don’t necessarily mean it’s just people looking at their cell phones because driver inattention takes a lot of different forms.

“Someone might be looking at a child, and while you are looking at that child on the sidewalk, the car in front of you has stopped, and then all of a sudden, you’re in trouble.

“It’s not great that these accidents continue to happen here in Wairarapa.”

Bowyer said drivers needed to be aware of their surroundings as many of Wairarapa roads needed maintenance and could be tricky to drive on in any particular day.

“The big concern for us is the skill of the driver,” he said.

“The roads in Wairarapa certainly need their maintenance kept up, so it’s continuing that awareness of your surrounds.

“We must always drive to the conditions, even in 50kmh places, or any place where the speed has been limited.

“You’ve still got to be attentive. You just don’t know what’s going to happen. People do strange things, so we always must be aware and be prepared to react.

“People continuing to maintain awareness from being distracted is where our concerns are.”

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