Judge echoes coroner's disquiet over intersection

BELINDA FEEK
Last updated 10:44 15/07/2014

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A notorious intersection will continue to kill and maim road users unless the NZ Transport Agency acts, a Hamilton District Court judge says.

The intersection of Telephone and Holland roads, at Eureka east of Hamilton, still appeared to be an accident waiting to happen despite a coroner's call to make it safer, judge Glen Marshall said.

"It seems that hasn't been actioned . . . I can only hope that any comments I make can lend weight to coroner [Scott's] recommendation."

In March the intersection featured at number nine on the Transport Agency's list of the country's most dangerous intersections. There have been eight injury crashes since 2009, one resulting in serious injury.

The agency said it had discussed the intersection with Waikato police and might include it in a nationwide trial of electronic "slow down" warning signs pending completion of the Hamilton section of the Waikato Expressway in 2019.

Judge Marshall made his comments this month during the sentencing of Auckland man Graham William Painter, 71, on a charge of careless driving causing injury in October, last year. Painter travelled along Telephone Rd before crossing the raised level rail crossing and turning left into Holland Rd.

Painter said he looked both ways before pulling out but didn't see an eastbound car containing two children and their mother. Their car spun into a light pole.

Through his lawyer Russell Boot, Painter was granted a discharge without conviction, partly due to his job as an international trade law consultant, the "problematic" Eureka intersection and the efforts he'd made with the victims.

Boot submitted coroner Scott's September 2013 findings from a fatal crash at the same spot and urged Marshall to take them into account, in particular his recommendation to fix the "complex, offset intersection".

Marshall said the coroner's findings made "compelling reading" and the circumstances of Painter's crash were similar, "if not identical". He said the intersection required rapid driving movements.

"It seems to me that the prospect of further serious accidents and fatals at this complex and problematic intersection will continue unless the coroner's recommendations are taken up."

NZTA highway manager Kaye Clark said the agency was investigating if a pilot project - Rural Intersection Activated Warning Signs (RIAWS) - would improve safety. The signs were activated by vehicles.

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