Crashes on Saddle Rd spike since the Manawatū Gorge closure

A crash on the Saddle Rd in June. It was one of at least 14 crashed since April 24, as the road comes under pressure ...
DAVID UNWIN/FAIRFAX NZ

A crash on the Saddle Rd in June. It was one of at least 14 crashed since April 24, as the road comes under pressure from increased traffic since the Manawatū Gorge closed.

The number of crashes on the Saddle Rd has soared since the Manawatū Gorge closed. 

The Saddle Rd, one of the main alternative routes to the closed State Highway 3 through the Manawatū Gorge, has been under pressure since several gorge slips in April.

Information from the NZ Transport Agency shows 13 recorded crashes on the 11-kilometre road between April 24 and the end of August. 

Dannevirke resident Sharon Senior is calling for motorists to drive more carefully on the windy route.
WARWICK SMITH/STUFF

Dannevirke resident Sharon Senior is calling for motorists to drive more carefully on the windy route.

There has been at least one more crash since then, when a shuttle and another vehicle collided in late September. There were only two crashes on the Saddle Rd in 2016.

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Dannevirke resident Sharon Senior said her father Kevin Hall was involved in a crash, when a driver swerved into his lane on the road. 

Hall drives a health shuttle between Dannevirke and Palmerston North and had passengers on board when the crash happened. 

No-one was injured, but Hall was shaken, Senior said.

"Common sense tells you when you're driving a windy road you slow down, but not everybody uses common sense."

Senior drives the Saddle Rd about five times a week, each way, and she said it was no surprise the number of crashes was now so much higher. 

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Trucks would pass each other and smaller vehicles passed dangerously, Senior said.

"You'll get people that don't know the road and they're hesitant. If you don't know the road, hang in there to the left."

The quality of the road also caused problems, she said. Senior has seen half a dozen vehicles on the side of the road and she damaged a wheel when hitting a pothole.

Senior copped a $250 bill in July before the Saddle Rd underwent maintenance work to fix several potholes. 

The road had since improved, but new potholes were already forming, Senior said.  

Transport agency spokeswoman Liz Banas said maintenance work finished at the end of August, but if any other issues, such as new potholes, arose they would be fixed. 

A $8.5 million upgrade programme to improve the Saddle Rd will be finished over summer.

Of the 13 recorded crashes, 10 were either head-on collisions or due to drivers losing control, two were rear-ended crashes and one was caused when a vehicle overtook another. 

Poor handling or poor judgement were factors in 11 crashes and speed was a factor in seven.  

Three crashes resulted in people suffering minor injuries, while 10 were non-injury crashes. 

 - Stuff

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