Number of serious crashes on SH1 unacceptable, say local mayors

Published on 28 November 2018

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The high number of serious motor vehicle crashes, some resulting in fatalities, in less than two weeks on State Highway 1 is totally unacceptable to the communities of Kāpiti and Horowhenua, say Mayor of Kāpiti Coast K. Gurunathan and Mayor of Horowhenua Michael Feyen. 

Both mayors are demanding an effective and immediate response from NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) before the heavy holiday traffic heads north.

“That means now,” they said.

The mayors say two fatalities occurred on sections of highway that NZTA would claim have had 'safety improvements’ carried out in the recent past – at Ōhau and the Waikawa Beach turnoff on the Manakau straight. Local people are of the view and have tried to make NZTA understand that in fact the Waikawa turnoff is now more dangerous than before, the mayors say.

On the community’s behalf the mayors are seeking an urgent meeting with NZTA’s Senior Leadership Team to find a way to make changes before there are more fatalities. Mayors Feyen and Gurunathan believe that it is not simply a matter of reducing the speed limit, rather it is a case of making physical safety improvements. NZTA has publicly stated that it will fund and build them, but it is imperative that this is done immediately with a clear start date.

“These recent tragic accidents continue the observation of former coroner Philip Comber who noted that, over the past 25 years, the roads had become 'a killing field marked like a battlefield with white crosses',” said Mayor Gurunathan.

“I want to appeal directly to Transport Minister Phil Twyford to step in as this systemic killing field scenario is contrary to his government's stated GPS (Government Policy Statement) priority on safety. People in Ōtaki are vulnerable because they are forced to travel north to Levin and Palmerston North for access to a lot of their services. Ōtaki residents rushing to access health services have to negotiate this killing field.”

“There are numerous improvements that can be delivered by NZTA right now that will make an immediate difference. None of these are excessively costly in the greater scheme of things. What price can be put on human life?” said Mayor Feyen.

“NZTA has to accept that the local communities have had enough and further delays are not an option.”