Rebecca Quilliam is senior reporter at the NZME. News Service office in Wellington.

Truck-crash deaths slashed

Honeymooners Kallan Stithem and Kirsten Steinke's vehicle and a truck collided near Waitomo, killing Mr Stithem.
Honeymooners Kallan Stithem and Kirsten Steinke's vehicle and a truck collided near Waitomo, killing Mr Stithem.

The number of fatal truck crashes has dropped over the past decade, from a peak of 81 in 2004 to 46 last year, a decrease the New Zealand Transport Agency is celebrating.

The number of serious crashes has also dropped, from 202 in 2004 to 143 last year.

For the year to August, there were 74 serious crashes and 32 fatal crashes.

The drop has also cut the cost of truck crashes by millions of dollars, according to the figures.

The most costly year was 2002, when serious and fatal crashes resulted in a nearly $218 million cost to the country.

Last year the figure was less than half that, at nearly $100 million.

NZTA national media manager Andy Knackstedt called the figures a "blazing" result.

"We work pretty closely with the industry to try to keep things heading in the right direction," he said.

Road policing manager Superintendent Carey Griffiths said there had been a general decrease in the number of fatal crashes.

Police had worked closely with the transport industry on vehicle safety, driver safety, seatbelt use and speed.

NZTA's data showed most crashes happened during daylight hours and on sections of the road that were not intersections.

Despite the nationwide fall in crash numbers, there were still blackspots for trucks in some areas.

In Augus,t a public meeting was called in Northland about a spate of accidents among logging trucks on Otaika Valley Rd, which runs from State Highway 14 at Maungatapere to the Portland turnoff on State Highway 1, about 10km south of Whangarei.

Several logging truck crashes and a fatality on the road last year were followed by rollovers on February 20 and 27 and on August 9 this year.

Then-Mayor Phil Halse said the Whangarei District Council would widen corners and erect signs lowering speed limits to reduce danger on the road.

Trucks have been involved in several high-profile crashes, including one last September involving an American couple on their honeymoon. Their vehicle collided with a cement truck at a Waitomo intersection. Kallan Stithem died at the scene and his wife Kirsten Steinke was in hospital for weeks. APNZ


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