A Northland man who survived a crash that cut his car in half believes more self-love will drive better decision-making from the region's riskiest drivers.
Mangakahia resident Howard Tarr's message came after a deadly week on Northland's roads with two fatal accidents in Whangārei and Kaitaia.
Stacey Sadlier was killed when the vehicle he and two others were travelling in ploughed into a power pole in Maunu around 2am on Monday. The other male passengers were in a stable condition in Whangārei Hospital.
A 31-year-old woman suffered fatal injuries when she was thrown from the vehicle after it left the road and hit a bank on State Highway 1 near Te Kao, on the Aupouri Peninsula, on Thursday evening.
While the Coroner would make the final determination, police suspected alcohol was a factor and that the driver was not wearing a seatbelt.
Nearly two decades ago Tarr, now 62, was travelling with his 8-year-old daughter to pick up a freezer when a speeding land cruiser in wet conditions hit his "tiny" car front on near the Tauraroa Rd turn-off.
"The last thing I remember was when he was about three inches from my bonnet and me turning the wheel to avoid it hitting my daughter's side. A pillar came down and hit me on the head and then I was out cold," Tarr said.
His car was cut in half. While he was seriously injured, his daughter was fortunate to escape with whiplash.
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Life for Tarr was now creating lists to combat forgetfulness, mornings of productivity and afternoons filled with naps. There were also mood swings and other challenges that stemmed from the permanent damage to his frontal lobe caused by the crash.
For Tarr, solace was to be found in the bone and wood-carving sculptures he creates.
The artist had no grudge against the truck driver who, he said, was "in a hurry". Instead Tarr hoped people responsible for avoidable road fatalities could find a strengthened sense of self-preservation by overcoming hardships in their lives.
"When you're driving a fast car you have two choices: keep the speed on or kill it off. If your level of self-love and purpose is through the floor, you're not going to worry enough about yourself to stop," he said.
"People need incentive. Find something to succeed in, even if it's miniscule. Have that purpose that reminds you about how lucky you are to be here."
The latest fatalities have increased the Northland road toll this year to 26.