Prevention focus on driver fatigue

Driver fatigue has been put under the spotlight by Horizons Regional Council in an effort to prevent crashes as the road toll for Central District reaches last year's total.

The long weekend ended with five fatalities nationally, of which one occurred within Central District.

Eketahuna man Adrian "AJ" James Ihaka, 36, died in a single vehicle crash in the Tararua township on Saturday.

Police say it appeared Ihaka was speeding away from a party at the town's community hall, where people were celebrating the local rugby club's 125th anniversary, before crashing into a lamp-post on the corner of Alfredton Rd and Herbert St about 10.30pm. The crash remains under investigation.

His death is the 22nd for the Central District, bringing this year's road toll for the area on par with last year'stotal for the whole year.

Ihaka's death comes on the back of a concerted police effort to ensure drivers stayed safe on the roads with a "Make it to Monday" campaign.

Part of that campaign included a driver checkpoint in Woodville, where police were joined by staff from Horizons Regional Council and members of Dannevirke High School's Student's Against Driving Drunk, to encourage drivers to drive safely over the long weekend.

The checkpoint, on Friday afternoon, stopped about 1040 drivers, breath tested just over 900 of them, but did not result in any drink driving offences.

Just 11 infringement notices were issued, the majority relating to registration and warrant offences.

Horizons road safety co-ordinator for Tararua, Debbie Webster said she, with the help of students from SADD joined police at the checkpoint, giving out more than 500 bottles of water and information packs to drivers.

Fatigue in particular had been identified as a problem for drivers in Tararua following crash analysis by the New Zealand Transport Agency, and the packs included information on how to avoid becoming drowsy behind the wheel.

Advice given to drivers included stopping for a break every two hours, avoid driving at times when they would usually be asleep, taking a power nap of no more than 20 minutes, and staying hydrated.

Webster said it was difficult to measure the success of their work, but she hoped the message would linger long after the holiday weekend.

"Sadly Tararua did lose a driver in a fatal crash this weekend. However, we hope the stop helped raise awareness of road safety among others passing through Woodville," Webster said.

Acting Central District road policing manager Senior Sergeant Kris Burbery said the police focus on the "fatal five", speed, seatbelts, alcohol, distraction, and fatigue.

Manawatu Standard