A 16-year-old driver of a car that crashed south of Seddon had only a learner's licence and was driving an illegally modified car, police say.
The teenage driver was returning to Nelson from Kaikoura with a family member when he lost control of the Subaru vehicle and it crashed and rolled on State Highway 1 south of Seddon about 2pm on Sunday.
The 32-year-old woman, who was lying asleep without a seatbelt in the back seat, suffered serious head, arm, shoulder and leg injuries.
Firefighters took an hour to cut the woman out of the vehicle before she was flown to Christchurch Hospital by the Nelson Marlborough Rescue Helicopter. She was in a stable condition today.
The driver was taken to Wairau Hospital in Blenheim, where he was treated for moderate hand and facial injuries. He was treated and discharged.
Sergeant Barrie Greenall, of Marlborough highway patrol, said conditions were dry at the time of the crash.
Driver inexperience and illegal modifications to the vehicle were likely contributors to the crash, he said.
"When things went wrong, the driver obviously did not have the skill to rectify them." The 16-year-old was too young to be charged but if evidence was found that suggested he should be disciplined, the incident would be referred to youth aid.
It was apparent at the scene that the teenager was deeply shocked and he was very remorseful, Mr Greenall said.
"The boy only had to look at his family member who was severely injured to realise the extent of the damage."
The woman in the back seat had an appropriate licence but was not correctly supervising the learner driver, he said.
But he saw "little point or benefit to police or the public" in charging the woman, especially given the extent of her injuries.
The case was still under investigation, and police were examining the vehicle's modifications.
Mr Greenall said modifications to the car's steering wheel made it difficult to drive, even for experienced drivers.
The public needed to be reminded of the dangers of car modifications, driver inexperience and not wearing a seatbelt.
Even those who felt comfortable on the road should not drive fast or not wear a seatbelt because they might be sharing the road with inexperienced or illegal drivers.
"We all have our part to play at keeping everyone on the road safe."
- The Nelson Mail
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