With a bad holiday period of crashes that have left two dead and several others injured in and around Rotorua, reporter Stephanie Arthur-Worsop checks out the driving behaviours of motorists at two notorious city intersections.

Running red lights and failing to indicate at Rotorua intersections are among the leading causes of urban crashes, a local police officer says.

The Rotorua Daily Post spent 15 minutes observing two key city intersections between 10.30am and 11.30am on Thursday, making note of the number of people indicating incorrectly and running red lights.

This comes in light of the high number of crashes, including two fatal crashes, that have happened in and around the Rotorua district since January 1.


The informal survey was carried out at the Koutu/Clayton Rd intersection and the Tarawera Rd roundabout.

After 15 minutes at the roundabout the tally showed 64 motorists failed to indicate out of the roundabout, 29 motorists did not indicate for a left hand turn and six indicated in the wrong direction.

There were two near misses observed, both a result of the right-turning vehicle failing to indicate and the other vehicle pulling out.

During the time spent at the roundabout there were only five drivers seen indicating properly.

At the Koutu/Clayton Rd intersection, nine vehicles were seen running a red light during the 15 minute time frame. There were 15 motorists who visibly sped up when the lights turned orange and 15 motorists who did not indicate when turning.

Acting officer in charge of road policing, Sergeant Simon Betchetti, said drivers needed to take responsibility for their own actions.

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"Things like running red lights and not letting other motorists know what you're doing by indicating are among the leading causes of crashes at intersections.

"Police can't be everywhere at once so while there are operations in place to curb behaviour like running red lights and not following the road rules, drivers need to take responsibility for their own actions and understand that other motorists might not."

Mr Betchetti said asking why road safety messages were not sinking in was the million dollar question.

"There are a lot of people travelling on the roads during the holiday period and it is often for longer periods of time so we are urging people to act responsibly, take rests when necessary and make sure they are complying with the road rules."

Allan Koller from Allan's Big Alz Driving School said one of the biggest issues he saw on the roads was drivers not indicating correctly.

"They either indicate incorrectly or don't indicate at all. I don't know how this issue could be remedied, perhaps the Government could do more adverts like those done when the give-way rules changed."

Mr Koller said said many people who failed their driver licence tests did so for not indicating or checking their blindspots.

"People get impatient and start taking risks. Rather than sitting at the lights for another two or three minutes they think 'I'll squeeze into this run' and it sometimes ends badly. Better syncronisation of the lights would help make people more patient if they knew more than two cars would make it through a green light before it turned orange again."

St John Lakes area territorial manager Hilary MorrishAllen said it appeared many of the crashes at intersections ambulance staff attended were a result of people being in a hurry and acting impulsively.

"You always have a choice at an intersection, you either decide to push the envelope and try to take a risky gap or you wait until the next turn. Crashes at intersections are so avoidable because drivers do have that choice.

"Think of the bigger picture - is it more important to be one car ahead or get home safely? Be patient and take your time because every time somebody runs a red light or makes an impulsive decision it is putting them and everyone else on that road at risk."

The survey results
The Rotorua Daily Post did an informal 15-minute survey at two intersections to see how many people followed the road rules correctly.
Koutu/Clayton Rd lights
Red light runners: 9
Speeding through orange lights: 15
Not indicating: 15
Tarawera Rd roundabout
Not indicating out of a straight turn: 64
Not indicating for a left-hand turn: 29
Indicating in the wrong direction: 6

The Road Rules
* If you are turning left at the first exit of a roundabout, signal left as you come up to the roundabout.
* If you are travelling more than halfway around a roundabout, signal right as you come up to the roundabout then signal left as you pass the exit before the one you wish to take.
* If you are going 'straight' through a roundabout, don't signal as you come up to the roundabout but then signal left as you pass the exit before the one you wish to take.
* A red traffic light means stop.
* A yellow traffic light means stop, unless you are so close to the intersection that you can't stop safely.
- The official New Zealand road code