Call to educate tourist drivers

AARON LEAMAN AND RACHEL THOMAS
Last updated 05:00 02/06/2014

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Tourist drivers need to be better schooled on the challenges of driving on the Coromandel Peninsula's winding roads, says the district's deputy mayor.

Peter French's comments come after one person was killed and three people injured in a head-on smash on State Highway 25 in Whenuakite, near the turnoff to Hot Water Beach, on Friday evening.

Waikato district road policing manager Inspector Freda Grace said early indications were a campervan, driven by an overseas tourist, crossed the centre line into the path of a four-wheel drive vehicle.

A female passenger, named as 52-year-old Robyn Eilleen Derrick, of Auckland, in the 4WD was killed while the male driver suffered serious injuries.

Two people in the campervan were also injured and taken by ambulance to Thames Hospital. The pair have since been discharged from hospital.

French, Thames-Coromandel's deputy mayor, said more needed to be done to educate overseas drivers about Coromandel's narrow, twisting roads.

"We're going to get more and more people coming to the Coromandel in campervans so it's always a concern when you see campervans and foreign drivers involved in crashes, particularly when they cross the centre line," he said.

"I'm not sure how much work is going into educating overseas drivers but we can always do more. We need to do more to tell them about the challenges they'll face on the Coromandel and that will ultimately make the roads safer for locals and our overseas tourists."

Waikato Police District communications manager Andrew McAlley said the exact cause of the fatal crash would not be known for another four to six weeks.

French said the council was working with the NZ Transport Agency to assess speed limits on the peninsula.

"On the western side, up to the Thames coastline, there's no way it should be a 100kmh speed limit there. We also have a few one-lane bridges which is always a concern and we'd like to get rid of them but that's a long-term strategy for the Coromandel."

Six people were reported dead after multiple crashes across the country over the long weekend at the time of publication. The holiday period ends 6am tomorrow. 

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- Waikato Times

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