More fatalities on Waikato roads

AARON LEAMAN AND MARYANNE TWENTYMAN
Last updated 05:00 03/12/2012
CARNAGE: One patient was taken to Waikato Hospital with moderate injuries after this crash at Tirau just after 4pm yesterday.
BRUCE MERCER/Fairfax NZ
CARNAGE: One patient was taken to Waikato Hospital with moderate injuries after this crash at Tirau just after 4pm yesterday.

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The Waikato road toll is accelerating toward last year's total of 51 deaths, with three fatalities during the weekend.

Last night a 40-year-old man was killed when the motorbike he was riding lost control in wet conditions and hit a wire barrier on State Highway One just north of the Rangiriri Tavern. A passenger on the bike was taken to Middlemore Hospital with a moderate arm injury after the crash, which happened just after 7pm.

Officer in the charge of the scene Senior Sergeant Rupert Friend appealed for drivers to be careful.

"There have been way too many [crashes] this weekend, can people please respect the road conditions," he said.

Meanwhile, two people died in crashes near Paeroa and Taumarunui on Saturday.

With the region's road toll now sitting at 42, roading police bosses have vowed to breath test every driver pulled over on Waikato roads this Christmas, in the hope of putting the brakes on the escalating road toll.

The three Waikato fatalities added to an horrific weekend with another four people killed in a string of crashes that left 22 injured across the North Island.

A 25-year-old man was killed instantly when the car he was a passenger in left Awaiti Rd, west of Paeroa, about 11.15pm on Saturday, and rolled in a nearby paddock before ending up against a farm shed.

The car's 25-year-old male driver, from Paeroa, was taken to Thames Hospital with moderate injuries.

He was later shifted to Waikato Hospital where he remains in a stable condition.

Police Sergeant Jim Corbett, of the Thames-Hauraki strategic traffic unit, said the crash happened on a dry straight stretch of road.

The serious crash unit was investigating but Mr Corbett said that speed may have been a factor in the smash.

Just an hour earlier a rider was killed near Taumarunui when his motorbike left Golf Rd and crashed into a house about 10.20pm on Saturday.

Waikato road policing manager Inspector Marcus Lynam said the region's road toll was "far too high" and urged motorists to drive to road conditions.

"It does get quite frustrating because a number of the factors are the same. High speed and alcohol have been factors in a large number of the 41 fatalities this year," Mr Lynam said.

"It's frustrating but we need to keep on with the message of reducing speed, driving to the conditions, ensuring you've got your seatbelt on and don't drink and drive."

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Mr Lynam said Christmas was a particularly dangerous time on the road because of high traffic volumes.

As part of the safety push, all motorists stopped by police will be breath-tested "as standard procedure".

"I've just been to Pauanui this weekend and you do see a lot of people getting impatient and overtaking in situations they shouldn't be.

"They're not actually saving any time, but they're putting themselves and other road users at risk."

Mr Lynam said the community also had a role in making roads safer.

"If you're having parties or organising social get-togethers, particularly over Christmas, ensure people that are coming have got alternatives to get home if they're driving or arrange accommodation for them to stay overnight."

Meanwhile, two motorcyclists killed in a fatal crash about noon on Saturday near Normanby, south Taranaki, have been named.

They were Kelly Richard Reardon, 40, of Waitara, and Gordon Thomas McKay, 68, of New Plymouth.

A 24-year-old Wanganui man involved in the crash was transported by Westpac Waikato Air Ambulance to Waikato Hospital under specialist care from an intensive care retrieval team.

The man, who suffered multiple fractures and chest injuries, was the driver of a van that collided with a group of motorcycles on a charity ride on State Highway 3.

Four other people were badly injured in the crash and remain in Taranaki Base Hospital. Earlier on Saturday a 21-year-old motorcyclist was killed when he crashed head-on with a car on State Highway 2 near Opotiki.

Later on Saturday a man was killed in a three car crash near Ruakaka about 4pm.

- Waikato Times

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