Fatals spur police advice

Two deaths in a week on South Canterbury roads have prompted police to remind drivers to look out for themselves and others, and to drive to the conditions.

The region's road toll for the first half of 2013 is three after a 64-year-old Ashburton man died at Otaio on Sunday afternoon.

Last week, a 5-week-old infant from Timaru died from injuries he suffered in a crash near Pareora.

The two accidents are under investigation, but police have seen other serious crashes recently that were related to winter driving conditions, according to Waimate Sergeant Mike van der Heyden.

On June 21, two Ikawai women were lucky to escape with their lives when their vehicle slid off a snowy bridge into Elephant Hill Stream. They were trapped up to their necks in the frigid water for about 45 minutes.

"We had another vehicle [on Monday] morning that slid off the icy gorge road and into Waimate Creek," Mr van der Heyden said. "People need to slow down and be sure to drive to the conditions because the roads are slippery."

But inattention and risk-taking were probably the most significant causes of crashes in general.

"Most are probably caused by poor observation or inattention."

Earlier this year, Fonterra worker Steve Kirkcaldie was killed when hit by a vehicle while cycling at the intersection of Milford-Clandeboye and Bain roads.

In 2012, South Canterbury's road toll was five.

"We should be looking at this and saying, as drivers, we have a responsibility to keep ourselves and our passengers safe," Senior Sergeant Randel Tikitiki said.

"The killers for New Zealand roads are fatigue, speed and not driving to the conditions. Particularly in Mid-South Canterbury, where we tend to travel long distances on relatively straight roads."

It also pays to practice defensive driving, he said. "The person in front or behind you might not be as good a driver as you are."

The Timaru Herald