Two truck crashes near Kaikoura in less than a week have prompted calls for truck drivers to take more care along a dangerous stretch of State Highway 1.
Both accidents happned when the truck and trailer units rolled after failing to negotiate bends.
The first accident happened south of Kaikoura on Friday. Police believe the Freight Lines truck, carrying bales of hay, had been travelling too fast for the corner. The driver escaped with minor injuries.
Emergency services were called out just before 4am yesterday to the second accident, this time north of Kaikoura near Ohau Point.
The south-bound truck rolled on a sweeping bend and hit a bank. Kaikoura Volunteer fire chief Ian Walker said it was carrying hazardous substances, including sulphuric acid, paint, batteries and spray cans.
The driver was not injured and the truck's cargo was contained by a dam of sand.
On both occasions the drivers had been lucky no vehicles had been travelling in the other direction as both trucks ended up on their sides on the wrong side of the road, Mr Walker said.
After the first accident, Constable Andy Grant, of Kaikoura, said Land Transport regulations stipulated that large trucks should drive at 10km less than the posted speed limit. Kaikoura police and highway patrol staff would be paying close attention to the speed of heavy vehicles in the coming months.
NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) southern region access & use manager Greg Allnutt said the organisation was working with truck operators to reduce heavy vehicle rollover crashes on the Kaikoura Coastal route.
State Highway 1 between Christchurch and Picton was used by more than 500 heavy vehicles each day, he said.
However, accidents involving heavy vehicles as well as truck rollovers had decreased during the past three years as a result of work being done, which included driver education programmes.
NZTA had improved the highway, including widening and realigning the road north of Kaikoura, and lowering the speed limit south of Kaikoura.
"The results show the work we have done is making a difference and we have another programme of truck driver education to roll out with our partners in 2013 in a bid to further reduce the number of crashes on this section of highway," he said.
"This work is part of NZTA's Safer Journeys Strategy which takes a world-leading approach to a safe road system increasingly free of death and serious injury. This approach recognises that people are vulnerable to crash forces and that they can make mistakes but shouldn't need to die as a result." Kaikoura mayor Winston Gray said he would prefer to see freight sent by train.
- The Marlborough Express
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