Roads, where you are most at risk

By Brendan Manning

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Driver behaviour and lack of patience are the most common causes of crashes at Whangarei intersections, a top road cop says.

Six fatal crashes occurred at intersections in the Whangarei district between 2007-11, New Zealand Transport Agency crash analysis figures reveal.

Whangarei's most dangerous intersections were Nixon St and Mill Rd, George St and King St, Albert St and Woods Rd, and State Highway 1 North and Nova Scotia Drive - with two serious or fatal crashes at each intersection.

One serious/fatal crash occurred at the State Highway 1 and Manse St intersection during the same period.

In the 201 crashes at intersections on local roads, two people were killed, 38 suffered serious injuries and 222 received minor injuries. Travelling too fast for the conditions was a factor in 18 per cent of the crashes, young drivers featured in 43 per cent of crashes, and alcohol and drugs in 19 per cent.

Northland road policing Senior Sergeant John Fagan said that, while not all Whangarei intersections were as perfect as they could be, "at the end of the day it all comes down to driver behaviour around intersections".

Being aware of what was coming from either side, patience and "taking your time" were keys to reducing intersection crashes, he said.

In the 100 crashes at intersections on state highways, five people were killed, 18 suffered serious injuries and 114 minor injuries.

The three top characteristics of injury crashes were crossing/turning, loss of control on bends, and failing to stop or give way.

As of Friday, four people had died on Northland roads in the year to date, down from five at the same time last year.

The majority of Northland drivers were patient and "pretty good on the road", Mr Fagan said.

NZTA spokesman Andy Knackstedt said the fact that one intersection had more injury crashes than another did not necessarily mean it was more dangerous.

"It may simply mean that there is a lot more traffic travelling through the intersection, and hence statistically there are likely to be more crashes."

A single serious crash at an intersection could also result in several serious injuries, and that crash may well have been the result of a drink-driver failing to stop, rather than the intersection's design.

"When we look at safety and crashes we look at all aspects of the 'safe system' - drivers, vehicles, roads and speeds."

The Safer Journeys Action Plan 2013-15 was launched last month with a goal of a safe road system, increasingly free of death and serious injury.

The plan is a cross-agency initiative.

- NORTHERN ADVOCATE

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