Crash drivers billed over $100k


At fault drivers are being held to account by the New Zealand Transport Agency, with invoices for damage to roads totalling over $1 million last year.

Twenty motorists in the wider Hawke's Bay region have been billed a total of $106,869 for recovery of crash costs so far this year.

Nationwide, 176 crash recovery invoices were issued last year, with a combined total of over $1 million.

Hawke's Bay officer in charge of road policing Senior Sergeant Fred van Duuren said while the extent of the damage depended on the crash, there was always debris left behind after a serious crash.

"There's maybe body parts that are collected, or blood that needs to be disposed of ... usually Fire Service helps out with that sort of thing."

The delays caused to other motorists were also a huge inconvenience, Mr van Duuren said.

"The people that are affected by crashes ... it's just amazing."

The largest invoice handed down in the past five years in Hawke's Bay was for $64,691 - relating to a logging truck which crashed, spilling its load across the Maraetaha No 5 bridge.

The crash caused significant damage to the bridge rail, concrete balustrades and pilasters.

NZTA group manager for highways and network operations Colin Crampton said when a driver was at fault in a crash, with associated costs such as clean-up, traffic management or damage to roadside equipment or signage on the state highway network, those costs need to be recovered.

"We have two choices - we can either seek to recover the costs from the individuals responsible, or we can charge all road-users and taxpayers for recovering the costs.

"This is the same principle which applies when a driver at fault in a crash causes damage to any property - they (or their insurance companies) are liable for the costs."

It was not a new practice as costs had been sought and recovered from at-fault drivers for more than a decade, Mr Crampton said.

"We know that when people are involved in a road crash it's a terrible situation for them and for their family, and we always try to be as careful as possible not to add to that stress."

Hastings woman Shona Goodfellow was seething last year after her teenage daughter was billed nearly $1400 for a near-fatal crash in which she crashed into a ditch. Mrs Goodfellow conceded her daughter had caused the crash, but questioned the need to invoice for costs.

"I pay my taxes and car registration ... surely that pays for this."

Regional NZTA offices decided when cost recovery was appropriate.

NZTA spokesman Kevin Reid has previously said recovery for the road-related costs of crashes would be sought when a driver was prosecuted and ordered to pay reparation, or when NZTA was satisfied the loss was caused by negligent driving.

In the past, NZTA had pursued cases through the small claims tribunal, commissioned debt collection agencies and taken legal action.

Acting national professional services manager John Donbavand said indicative prices for road replacement items varied widely.

By the numbers

  • 20 motorists in the Gisborne/Hawke's Bay region billed a total of $106,869 so far this year

  • 26 motorists billed a total of $258,396 in 2012

  • 16 motorists billed a total of $112,320 in 2011

  • 10 motorists billed a total of $21,464 in 2010

  • * 12 motorists billed a total of $19,646 in 2009

  • 176 motorists billed a total of $1,143,948 nationwide in 2012.

  • 141 motorists billed a total of $1,301,045 nationwide in 2011.

Source: NZTA

- Hawkes Bay Today

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