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Taupo Mayor says enough is enough following fatal crashes

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Taupō District Mayor David Trewavas wants State Highway safety improvements for his district expedited following three fatal crashes in which 16 people lost their lives.

He is preparing to lobby the New Zealand Transport Agency, saying the number of crashes show that improvements to the roads is critical and it’s now time to "stop talking, and start making roads safer". He also wants the council to look at its own roads and prioritise any potentially dangerous sections of road ahead of other works. "While roads may look visually ok, there can be hidden dangers," he said.

The Mayor’s calls come at the start of Road Safety Week and in the wake of the third multiple traffic crash in the Taupō District where three people died in the early hours of Saturday morning. A van headed south collided with a truck at Hatepe. This followed the deaths of eight people near Atiamuri on April 26, and five who died in a crash at Tirohanga at the start of April. All three incidents are being investigated by the Serious Crash Unit.

"Something needs to change and that change needs to happen now," said Mr Trewavas. "To make a difference we all need to play our part. Losing one life in our district is too many. To lose 16, especially in such a short period, is incomprehensible," he said. "Enough is enough."

Police had indicated that fatigue was likely to be a common thread across all three crashes and the Taupō District’s unique geographic location meant by the time people arrived they had normally driven for some length of time.

"We greet people from the east, west, north and south, and it does take some time to get here. The best thing a driver can do is take a moment to recharge their batteries even at the slightest hint of fatigue," said Mr Trewavas. And that also applied to locals. "Research shows it is usually 20 minutes from home when fatigue kicks in, so if you are feeling it, pull over and stop."

It had also been confirmed that some of the passengers killed in the crashes had not been wearing seatbelts.

"When people become a licenced driver they take on the responsibility not only for their own life, but for those travelling with them," said Mr Trewavas. "I call on passengers to keep drivers honest too, we all have a part to play and if you are travelling in a vehicle you need to make it click."

Mr Trewavas said he would also be writing to the chief coroner to express his frustration at getting some of the causes of crashes out to the public.

"Education goes hand in hand with enforcement and engineering when it comes to road safety and we need to get messages out to people in a timely way. Together we can make a change and we can make it now."

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