Rash red-light runners risk fines and death

MATT BOWEN
Last updated 05:00 07/06/2014

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Red-light runners in Hamilton have killed two people and racked up nearly $200,000 in fines, out of more than $5 million nationwide, over the past five years.

The national trend is down, yet the city is bucking that statistic. After a drop from 454 fines in 2009 to 350 the following year, the figure has increased steadily to 448 in 2013.

Nationally, there were 12,795 tickets slapped on drivers in 2009, which dropped to a low of 10,093 in 2012 before rising to 10,415 last year.

All tickets in the data were issued by police officers. Auckland is New Zealand's sole home of red light enforcement cameras.

Hamilton's unflattering jump coincides with two police crackdowns on dangerous driver behaviour at intersections last May and September.

The campaigns were motivated by figures from the first six months of 2013 in which there were 199 intersection crashes in the city.

Police slammed motorist behaviour last October, as risky behaviour had continued unabated.

While drivers who run red lights or race the yellow may get away with it a certain number of times, grieving mother Joy Bray knows too well that you can be killed at an intersection a few blocks from home.

This month, Huntly woman Eva Kahu Tawha, 53, will be sentenced after earlier admitting causing the death of Bray's daughter Lynelle when she drove through a red light.

"Anyone thinking about running a red light needs their head read," Bray said.

Tawha was at the wheel of a Pavlovich bus when it smashed into Lynelle Bray's car at the intersection of Victoria St and Te Rapa Rd on December 30 last year.

"It happens in an absolute instant," her mother said.

"People should take red-light runners' licence plate numbers down and report them. Until we all get a lot more focused on the justice side, things won't change.

"Kiwi drivers are very blase and impatient and I think that's why they run red lights, so they don't have to wait for the phase change. It's one split second that has changed our whole life."

Bray said those close to her daughter have changed their driving behaviour at intersections and now watch out for red-light runners.

On Christmas Day 2012, sickness beneficiary William Ma, 57, drove through a red light at the intersection of Avalon Dr and Te Rapa Rd, outside Burger King.

His mother-in-law, Rongomei Wang, 71, was in the back.

Another vehicle smashed into Rongomei, killing her.

In court last November, Ma's counsel James Gurnick said the crash still haunted Ma and his wife.

Waikato district road policing manager, Inspector Freda Grace, urged people to think about what they're doing when they're entering an intersection because "it's one of those critical points".

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"The overarching thing I think is education and an understanding of the serious consequences that can occur from a small error. So many of our serious crashes involve, in the scheme of things, a minor error of judgement but because you're driving a heavy vehicle, at speed, it can have serious consequences."

She also agreed that motorists should report red-light runners.

Ideally, police want to know the registration plate number, time, date, location and, if possible, a description of the driver. Call *555 to report drivers, or if their behaviour is dangerous and life-threatening call 111.

matt.bowen@fairfaxmedia.co.nz

MOST DANGEROUS

Bridge St and Victoria St

Te Aroha St and Peachgrove Rd

Normandy Ave and Cobham Dr

Five Cross Roads roundabout Cambridge Rd (SH1) and Morrinsville Rd (SH26) roundabout

Wairere Dr, Gordonton Rd, Crosby Rd roundabout 

- Waikato Times

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