Red light runners catch police eye

By Sophie Ryan

Brazen drivers are bolting through red lights at an alarming rate at a busy Whangarei intersection.

The Northern Advocate witnessed and recorded three light phases of southbound traffic on State Highway 1 at the Maunu Road intersection, about 3.30pm yesterday.

Two trucks and three cars ran red lights within minutes.

The intersection would usually be full of youngsters walking home from school, had it not been school holidays.

Horahora School principal Pat Newman said he had parents coming to him telling him about many near-misses at the intersection.

"It is a recipe for death," he said. "I had one mother tell me how she had to grab a child and pull him off the road because a car was running a red.

"The kids these drivers hit could be their own."

Northland highway patrol Senior Sergeant John Fagan said police had received a number of calls from people about the problem, especially around the Maunu Rd and State Highway 1 intersection.

"The concern is with kids walking to school in the morning, which coincides with peak traffic flow through that area. The last thing we want is a pedestrian injured, or worse," Mr Fagan said. "Always slow down when coming to an intersection and the amber light does not mean you can speed up and keep going.

"It is better to stop for those extra one or two minutes then end up hurting a child or, even worse, killing them."

Mr Fagan said police would take action if provided with the registration numbers of vehicles running lights.

Police will be at high-risk pedestrian crossings, controlled intersections and stop signs across Northland when children return to school next week.

Officers will support the youngsters and remind motorists about their responsibilities at intersections.

The notorious intersection is being upgraded so State Highway 1 traffic turning left will be free-flowing, with pedestrian crossings being put in place.

Solid raised median barriers will be installed on State Highway 1 and cycle facilities will be improved.

To promote pedestrian safety, Northland police and RoadSafe Northland are also holding the "Long Short Walk Week", which starts on Monday.

RoadSafe Northland said pedestrian injury was a problem for the Whangarei District, with 88 pedestrians hit in the past five years.

The initiative aims to make walking safer, and culminates with a community walk at Kensington Park on Saturday, May 11.

RoadSafe Northland and its partners are working together to raise community awareness of the problem. Participants are encouraged to wear green to support the cause.

- Northern Advocate

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