High beam lights may have saved man

ROAD DEATH: William Gregory Hoskins was killed after he was struck by a car while lying on the road after a night out.
ROAD DEATH: William Gregory Hoskins was killed after he was struck by a car while lying on the road after a night out.

A coroner is calling for better regulations of headlights following the death of a drunk man who was run over lying on a rural Hamilton road at night.

Hastings man William Gregory Hoskins was killed on January 15, 2012, after he was struck by a car on Marychurch Road in the early hours of the morning.

It is not known how he came to be lying on the road, Coroner Gary Evans said in findings released today.

Hoskins had travelled to Hamilton with family to attend a cousin's wedding, and had been drinking at the reception.

A test found he had alcohol in his blood at a level of 190 milligrams per 100 milliletres, over twice the legal blood alcohol limit for drivers.

He had also smoked the equivalent of a single cannabis cigarette in the hours before his death, which may have accentuated the effects of alcohol, a report said.

In the hour before his death, Hoskin had texted his father and stepmother asking to pick him up and take him back to the motel they were staying at.

He was last seen at the reception about 4.25am, when he apparently left to walk back to the motel.

About 4.45am, his body was found by a motorist. He was alive but unconscious, and died shortly after paramedics arrived.

Police appealed for information, and that evening received a phone call from Hamilton woman Ngaire Mascelle.

She and her husband, David, had been on their way to Wellington when they ran over an object lying on the road.

Mascelle said she felt quite sure "it was a box or crate that we'd hit... there wasn't any blood or clothing or anything like that on the vehicle that would make us think otherwise".

David Mascelle said he thought it was a big pothole they had run over, which created a "hell of a bang".

They drove ahead before pulling over to check the damage to their car, and later stopped at a BP service station for a period of time before continuing on.

The Court said Mascelle acted on wrong assumptions, and that he ought to have gone back.

Mascelle said he would "dearly like to put the clock back to where it was," the findings said.

Mascelle had been driving on dipped headlights, as he said he had encountered light fog earlier.

The Court said it did not accept there was good reason for Mascelle to continue driving on dipped headlights on an unlit rural road on a dark night when he had left the patch of fog.

"Had Mr Mascelle been travelling on high beam, it is possible that this fatal accident might have been avoided," the findings said.

Counsel for police Philip Crayton said it was clear the dangers of driving on dipped headlights on roads, particularly on rural roads during the hours of darkness, needed to be brought to the attention of New Zealand drivers.


- Consideration be given to the creation of more detailed regulations as to the requirements of vehicle headlights.

- Consideration be given to revision of the warrant of fitness testing scheme with a view to measurement of the lux output of headlights and the distance at which they are operating efficiently.

- Greater emphasis be placed on the dangers of driving on dipped headlights on roads.

- Renewed consideration be given to the question of whether the Land Transport (Road User) Rules 2004 should contain a requirement or guide to the circumstances in which drivers must or should drive with their headlights on full beam.

The Court endorsed and accepted the recommendations.

"The facts of this sad case illustrate yet again the importance of ensuring the best illumination possible when driving motor vehicles on unlit rural roads."