Teenager cut free from head-on crash

Last updated 16:05 03/07/2014

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A head-on smash that left a teenage girl with life altering injuries was a stark illustration of safety improvements in modern vehicles, a senior police officer says.

The 17-year-old from Ohaupo, south of Hamilton, is now in a critical condition in Waikato Hospital's intensive care unit.

The collision occurred at the intersection of Newell and Airport roads at Tamahere shortly before 5.30pm on Wednesday night.

Initial indications from the crash investigation suggest a vehicle had stopped on Airport Rd, facing south, waiting to turn right into Newell Rd, district road policing manager, Inspector Freda Grace said.

''Another vehicle [travelling in the same direction], perhaps, hasn't observed that the vehicle was stationary and, not wanting to crash into the rear of that vehicle, the driver has taken evasive action to the right and collided with an oncoming vehicle.''

The teenager who allegedly swerved to the right was travelling in an old model vehicle while the north-bound car was manufactured in recent years.

Grace said if you looked at the damage inflicted on both vehicles you could easily think they were involved in separate crashes.

''[The late model car] has sustained damage, but damage consistent with a new, good quality, solid and well engineered and manufactured vehicle.''

It also had airbags and none of the occupants were injured.

The teenage girl in the other vehicle was trapped in the wreckage. Fire crews from Hamilton and Chartwell attended the accident and had to cut her free. 

While her injuries were not considered life threatening they were almost certainly life altering, Grace said.

''That's one of the things about serious crashes - when someone dies it is tragic, but what we don't take account of is when we have serious injury crashes lives are altered for the rest of the course of their life.''

That means a lengthy stay in hospital and rehabilitation afterwards.

Latest figures form the Ministry of Transport shows the updated average social cost  per fatal crash is estimated at $4,536,300, $473,600 per serious crash and $26,900 per minor crash.

Road conditions at the time were wet, light was dim and it was probably raining as a winter blast moved in from the south.Grace urged motorists to drive to the weather conditions and  remain aware of other road hazards.

''I don't know if speed was factor per se but for the conditions, possibly, because the the driver hasn't clearly identified what's going on on the road in front of them.''

She also encourage drivers to flick on their headlights and ease up on the accelerator.

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''You might be dealing with wet roads that are slippery. There's fog, rain and, in our worst case scenarios, ice... Weather conditions do contribute a lot to what we do so slow down, winter's here.'' 

- Waikato Times

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