Crash injury warning in older cars after collision

MATT BOWEN
Last updated 05:01 04/07/2014

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A head-on crash that left a young woman with life-altering injuries was a stark illustration of safety improvements in modern vehicles, a senior police officer says.

The collision occurred at the intersection of Newell and Airport roads at Tamahere south of Hamilto shortly before 5.30pm on Wednesday.

Initial indications from the investigation suggest a vehicle had stopped on Airport Rd, facing south, waiting to turn right into Newell Rd, district road policing manager Inspector Freda Grace said. Another vehicle, travelling in the same direction, "hasn't observed that the vehicle was stationary and, not wanting to crash into the rear of that vehicle, the driver has taken evasive action to the right and collided with an oncoming vehicle."

The Ohaupo 17-year-old who allegedly swerved to the right was driving an older car, while the north-bound car was a late model car.

Grace said if one looked at the damage to both vehicles it might easily be assumed they had been involved in separate crashes.

The late model car "sustained damage, but damage consistent with a new, good quality, solid and well-engineered and manufactured vehicle".

It also had airbags, and none of the occupants was injured.

The young woman in the other vehicle was trapped in the wreckage and yesterday remained in a critical condition at Waikato Hospital's intensive care unit.

Fire crews from Hamilton and Chartwell attended the accident and had to cut the young woman free.

While her injuries were not considered life-threatening they were almost certainly life-altering, Grace said.

"That's one of the things about serious crashes - when someone dies it is tragic, but what we don't take account of is when we have serious injury crashes, lives are altered for the rest of the course of their life."

That meant a lengthy stay in hospital and rehabilitation afterwards.

Latest figures from the Ministry of Transport indicate the updated average social cost per fatal crash is estimated at $4,536,300, $473,600 for a crash causing serious injury and $26,900 for a minor-injury crash.

Road conditions on Wednesday night in Tamahere were wet, the light was dim and it was probably raining as a winter blast moved in from the south.

Grace urged motorists to drive to the weather conditions and to be aware of other road hazards.

She also encouraged drivers to turn on their headlights and ease up on the accelerator.

"You might be dealing with wet roads that are slippery. There's fog, rain and, in our worst-case scenarios, ice . . . Weather conditions do contribute a lot to what we do, so slow down, winter's here."

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- Waikato Times

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