A Northland woman was lucky to walk away from the mangled wreck of her car after ricocheting off the front wheel of a fully laden logging truck.
The crash on State Highway 1 was on a sweeping bend about 3km north of Towai about 9am yesterday and could have been catastrophic, police said.
The impact of the crash crumpled the driver's side of the car and caused the truck tyre to blow out, buckled the rim and damaged the front axle unit.
The crash comes as police and the NZ Transport Agency launched Road Safety Week and urged all drivers to take road safety seriously and do their part to keep everyone safe following a series of devastating fatal crashes in New Zealand.
Senior police officer Inspector Chris McLellan was travelling to work in Whangārei and was one of the first on the scene only seconds after the crash yesterday.
McLellan, along with other motorists, managed to carefully remove the woman from the car through the passenger's door after an off-duty St John officer had assessed it was safe to move her.
Other members of the public extinguished the smoke coming from the engine of the vehicle.
"Thanks to the members of the public who helped," McLellan said. "And we were really thankful we were not dealing with a fatal and that we didn't' have to deliver bad news to this woman's family."
She was taken to Whangārei Hospital in a moderate condition.
McLellan said given the impact on the driver's side of the car with a fully laden logging truck it could have been catastrophic.
The southbound truck driver tried to avoid the car travelling in the opposite direction, which police said initial reports indicated had failed to take the bend and crossed the centre line, and managed to come to a stop on the centre line.
Light traffic was diverted through Ruapekapeka Rd while heavy traffic managed to pass the logging truck on SH1.
Police thanked motorists for their patience and the road was reopened about 11am.
This year Road Safety Week NZ coincides with the UN's Global Road Safety Week and has the same theme, Save Lives #SpeakUp. The global week calls for further leadership in road safety from governments to reduce road trauma, and calls on everyone to #SpeakUp about local issues that affect their community.
This year 143 people have already lost their lives on New Zealand roads – eight more than this time last year and the highest year-to-date figure since 2009.
Police National Manager of Road Policing Superintendent Steve Greally and NZTA's General Manager of Safety, Health and Environment, Greg Lazzaro, said the week could not come at a better time.
"Any death on our roads is too many, so we're using Road Safety Week to remind drivers about the four simple and proven actions they can take to help keep themselves, and everyone else on the road, safe and alive," Greally said.
A key message was always wear a seatbelt and ensure people are properly restrained.
The chance of death or serious injury in a crash can be reduced by 60 per cent in the front seat and 44 per cent in the back seat, just by putting on a seatbelt.
Another key message was don't drive impaired, as alcohol or drugs are a factor in about one-third of all fatal crashes.
Drive distraction free was also a key safety factor.
"Whether it's checking your phone, adjusting the GPS, or doing anything that distracts you from the task of driving, if you're not paying attention, you may not have time to react and avoid a crash," Lazzaro said.
Driving to the conditions and not exceeding the speed limit was crucial.
"Even when speed doesn't cause the crash, the speed on impact can be the difference between walking away from a crash or being carried away in an ambulance or a hearse," Lazzaro said.
Find out how to take part in Road Safety Week at : www.brake.org.nz