Wear your seatbelt

ANNA WILLIAMS
Last updated 07:28 30/01/2014

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A 32-year-old woman who was lying on the backseat of a car that crashed south of Seddon would have been spun around like she was in a clothes dryer, police say.

The Nelson woman is in Christchurch Hospital after the car, driven by a 16-year-old male on a learner's licence, crashed on State Highway 1 near Lake Grassmere about 2pm on Sunday.

Marlborough highway patrol team leader Sergeant Barrie Greenall said police had not talked to the woman but the driver told police the woman, a family member, was sleeping on the backseat.

She was not wearing a seatbelt when the Subaru Legacy rolled multiple times, landing on its roof on the wrong side of the road.

"People at the scene told me it would have been like being in a spin dryer," Mr Greenall said.

The woman was flown to hospital and had significant facial injuries that could be life changing, he said. A hospital spokeswoman said yesterday the woman was in a stable condition.

The teenager's inexperience as a driver and illegal modifications to the car contributed to the crash, Mr Greenall said.

The fact the woman was unrestrained in the backseat exacerbated the issue, he said.

"Her circumstances are the culmination of many errors.

"If she was wearing a seatbelt, it's likely her injuries would not be as bad."

Charges had not been laid against the driver and he would most likely be referred to Nelson Youth Aid because of his age, Mr Greenall said.

Seatbelts should be worn at all times in cars, he said.

"You might be uncomfortable sometimes by wearing a seatbelt but you can't just put it on if something goes wrong," he said.

If a car had been coming from the opposite direction and come across the rolled car on their side of the road, more people would have been hurt, Mr Greenall said.

"You don't choose to have an accident - it might not be your fault," he said.

"There are a lot of good drivers out there but if a 16-year-old in a modified car crashes and ends up on your side of the road, what are you going to do?"

The 16-year-old was taken to Wairau Hospital in Blenheim, and was treated and discharged.

Police are still investigating the crash but speed did not appear to be a factor, Mr Greenall said.

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- The Marlborough Express

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