Driving on a notorious stretch of highway

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Flowers mark the spot where five men lost their lives in a crash.
Flowers mark the spot where five men lost their lives in a crash.

Driving up SH2 towards Katikati every two or three minutes the photographer behind the wheel points out each spot he had been sent out to cover a serious car crash over the years.

It becomes pretty clear where SH2 gets its notorious reputation for claiming lives from, with each point of his finger.

Every few kilometres there's another story about mangled cars, bodies and lives.

Just on this one trip to Katikati we noticed reckless driving behaviour. Mistakes that didn't cause any loss of life or serious injury, but on this road it's luck of the draw which mistakes drivers end up paying dearly for.

Clipping along at the speed limit - 100km/h - a ute nudged our bumper until the next passing lane where he flew past going at least 120km/h. A few moments later he disappeared into the distance, going 120km/h well past the end of the passing lane.

Though it was a nasty rainy afternoon, with visibility similar to peering through a waterfall, the number of cars with their headlights on was split half and half.

Further up the road, a car was close on the bumper of a school bus, which travelling slower in the conditions and sending up a terrific spray behind its back wheels. The tailgating car's windshield wipers were at full tilt and you could almost see it itching to pull out to pass.

The road itself is unforgiving.

When the road narrows to cross a steam, leaving a mere metre between your 1500kg car and a 30,000kg truck, it's a white knuckle few seconds until the road widens back out.

Side roads on blind corners make pulling out onto the highway a gamble.

The road can't be considered particularly windy but its looping turns make it nearly impossible to see what is ahead.

Roads can always be improved, as the nature of those using them increase or change.
Months or years pass before the bureaucratic process, funding and consent is given for new roads or upgrades.

There is one thing we can change now, and that's our own driving. We can learn a lot from our mistakes when we aren't busy denying them and blaming the road.

When you sit behind the driver's seat you not only have the wheel in your hands but the future of yourself, your passengers and other road users.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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