Sandra is a senior crimes and justice reporter for the Bay of Plenty Times.

Calls for State Highway 2 safety works on notorious Apata S-bend after head-on smash


Apata residents are calling for action after the latest head-on crash on a notorious stretch of State Highway 2 which has already claimed at least eight lives.

Four white crosses near the site are a visible reminder of how dangerous this stretch of road is, known by some locals as "the notorious Apata S-bend".

The crashes included a head-on collision between two vehicles just before 6pm on Saturday.

A 69-year-old Tauranga man and his 65-year-old passenger were both in serious condition in Tauranga Hospital's intensive care unit last night.

The 47-year-old Katikati female van driver has since been discharged from hospital.

Apata resident Cheryl De Bruin said she and her husband Rowland have lived on Apata Station Rd for 23 years.

Mrs De Bruin said there had numerous accidents on the "notorious" stretch of road.

There were two sharp bends on both sides of this corner, and because the road was so narrow there was little room for error, she said.

"I'd like to see the road widened and straightened, and the visibility improved as we are only going to see more and more traffic using it as our population grows."

Mrs De Bruin said she and husband thought the 100 km/h speed limit was appropriate but the sharp bends were dangerous.

"I'd also like to see the entranceways into residents' driveways diverted to the nearest side road. That is where Transit New Zealand needs to spend some money."

Brian Williams and his wife Patricia had lived on Apata Station Rd for 30 years.

Mr Williams said there had been a number of improvements on the stretch of highway and NZ Transport Agency had more safety works in the pipeline.

"I don't think you can blame the road as we see this issue all the time. They believe the road is the best it has ever been, unfortunately the growth of traffic using it is beating the NZ Transport Agency to it."

"You have to ask yourself whether it's a problem with the road or is a driver problem. The reality is the bulk of these crashes are due to driver error," he said

"However, we would like to see the speed limit reduced to 90km/h right through to Katikati which would help to slow the traffic down."

Mrs De Bruin said, however, reducing the speed to 90km/h was only likely to cause more frustration for motorists, leading to more crashes.

Head of Western Bay road policing Senior Sergeant Ian Campion said the serious crash unit was still investigating Saturday's head-on collision.

Mr Campion said there had been numerous crashes on State Highway 2 this year, including two fatal accidents, one in July and another in August which resulted in five deaths.

"I'm not prepared to get into a debate around the road itself. Yes, clearly there are a number of improvements planned for SH2 and NZ Transport is working hard on that.

"To be fair if all drivers drove to the conditions, drove sensibly and concentrated on what they were doing these crashes would not occur," he said.

Sixty-four people have died or been seriously injured on SH2 between Tauranga and Katikati in the past five years, according to NZ Transport Agency data.

Some of the deaths near this black spot include

July 24, 2014: Tauranga man Peter Curnow, 78, died after the driver of another car crossed the centreline.

May 2001: Robert Sutherland, 63, known as Bob and his father Thomas, 87, lost their lives after a truck driver crossed the centre line after falling asleep at the wheel.

May 1999: Aucklanders Patricia Audain, Meryl Spencer, Patricia Towers, and Joyce Corless were crushed after a logging truck rolled and spilled logs onto their car.

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