Editorial: Wise words to drive by

GRANT SHIMMIN
Last updated 05:00 02/07/2013

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"... as drivers, we have a responsibility to keep ourselves and our passengers safe".

Not my words, but those of Timaru Senior Sergeant Randel Tikitiki, in response to two tragic road crash deaths in South Canterbury in the last week, and at least one more serious crash that could have seen our road toll for the year climb further.

The dramatic tale of the rescue of Irish visitor Elaine Carberry and her employer, Kelly Hodder, from an upturned car in the Elephant Hill Stream on June 21 had the best ending possible.

But on the front of Saturday's Herald Weekender, Miss Carberry wore a look that suggested she knew how lucky they were to have escaped unscathed.

The precise cause of that crash is unclear, though the slipperiness of the bridge was plainly a factor, and investigations are ongoing into the death of an Ashburton man at Otaio on Sunday and a five-week-old baby, following a crash near Pareora, last week. We await the findings of the serious crash investigations.

The latter two crashes are huge tragedies, particularly for the families of the two deceased, and the former incident could have resulted in tragedy too. That it didn't owed much to the presence of mind of emergency services.

Which is why we should all heed Mr Tikitiki's words. As drivers, it's critical that we're aware out on the road - of what's going on around us, including the fact that other drivers may be less aware and less capable, and that therefore particular expected actions on their part should not be taken for granted.

But also of those who are with us; our responsibility extends to our passengers, and therefore we need to be thinking about keeping them safe at all times.

And indeed, of the conditions, whether or not our vehicles are suitably equipped to handle them - should we be carrying chains, for example - and how to adjust our driving behaviour to compensate for hazardous conditions.

Of course, none of this is rocket science and we hear the same message year in and year out. It's just that at a time like this, it should resonate just a little more pointedly with those of us who drive.

A week ago, South Canterbury's road toll for the year was one; now it's three. That's still far behind the 10 in 2008 and the nine in 2010, but it's three too many.

With winter upon us, let's try to ensure that it climbs no higher in the cold, icy conditions. Nor for that matter when the weather starts to warm up.

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- The Timaru Herald

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