Caution urged on wet roads

By Mikaela Collins

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A collision on Smeatons Hill, just 200m north of where a man died last week, left two people seriously injured. Photo / Michael Cunningham
A collision on Smeatons Hill, just 200m north of where a man died last week, left two people seriously injured. Photo / Michael Cunningham

It was a hectic day for emergency services in Northland after two people were seriously injured in a crash near Whangarei and an elderly man died in a quad bike accident in Pouto.

Two people were seriously injured following a crash on Smeatons Hill at about 8.30am yesterday which happened just 200m north of where a man died last week, prompting a call from police for motorists to take extra care on wet roads. Two hours later in Pouto an elderly man died after the quad bike he was driving plunged 15 metres down a bank - bringing this year's road toll for Northland to three.

A contractor puts absorbent material on the road to clean up oil from a serious crash south of Whangarei that blocked the northbound lane of SH1. Photo / Michael Cunningham
A contractor puts absorbent material on the road to clean up oil from a serious crash south of Whangarei that blocked the northbound lane of SH1. Photo / Michael Cunningham

The accident on Smeatons Hill has acting Northland road policing manager Inspector Wayne Ewers urging people to take extra care on the wet roads.

"When you've had two days of hot weather and then you get a downpour of rain the roads are slippery so people need to take extreme care when they're on the roads.

Just because the speed limit says 100km/h it doesn't mean you have to hit it - it's not a target."

Police said it appeared a woman driving a southbound vehicle along State Highway 1, just south of Whangarei, lost control and crossed the centre line colliding with a vehicle headed northbound, yesterday.

Both drivers were transported to Whangarei Hospital by ambulance. A male passenger of the southbound vehicle was not injured. Mr Ewers said a third vehicle was involved after colliding with debris but no one was injured.

Acting Northland road policing manager Inspector Wayne Ewers is urging motorists to be careful on the road after two people were injured in a crash on Smeatons Hill. Photo / Michael Cunningham
Acting Northland road policing manager Inspector Wayne Ewers is urging motorists to be careful on the road after two people were injured in a crash on Smeatons Hill. Photo / Michael Cunningham

He said Northland roads were particularly slippery when downpours followed hot weather but Metservice meteorologist Claire Flynn said the rain is likely to clear up from today.

"There's been quite a few showers in the region but that should clear as we have a front coming through," she said.

She said while Northlanders can expect a few showers over the next few days the bulk of the rain had passed.

All emergency services were called to the SH1 collision and the Serious Crash Unit was investigating the cause of the crash which blocked the northbound lane of SH1 and caused a backlog of traffic.

Mr Ewers said any fatal or serious collision was "one too many" and said motorists need to watch their following distances, slow down around corners and drive to conditions.

Meanwhile, emergency services were called to Bay View Rd, Kellys Bay, about 10.30am yesterday after a couple on a quad bike rolled 15m down a bank. The driver of the quad bike, a man aged 82, died at the scene and his partner, a woman in her 60s, was airlifted to Whangarei Hospital in the Auckland Westpac Rescue Helicopter in a critical but stable condition. Police said the pair were not wearing helmets.

Police spokeswoman Sarah Kennett said the couple, who were staying at the nearby campgrounds, were driving the quad bike along a public road when the accident happened. Mrs Kennett said the cause of the accident was being investigated and police had no further comments to make.

A spokeswoman at the Kellys Bay Camping Reserve confirmed the couple had been staying at the camp, but did not want to comment further.

Just over halfway into January, the national road toll for the year is more than what it was at the same time last year. This year's fatalities average at just over one a day with 20 deaths in 18 days compared to 14 deaths at the same time last year.

- Northern Advocate

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