Waikato emergency services breath sigh of relief after close calls

Waikato emergency services breath sigh of relief after close calls

National News

June 2010

A close run thing is how Waikato describe this year's Queen's Birthday holiday weekend which saw the lowest road toll in over 50 years- just!

Waikato Road Policing Manager, Inspector Leo Tooman, said the public had to be commended for their support of zero tolerance of excessive speeds on the nation's roads.

"There was certainly heavier traffic volumes out there but early indications on Friday were drivers were watching their speeds and this was backed up from reports yesterday of driver behaviours.

"We also had quite a lot of phone calls, particularly on SH2, of drivers driving dangerously, thankfully with the highly visible Police presence we were able to take action against those drivers."

While the majority of drivers heeded the safety message Mr Tooman said Waikato emergency services breathed a huge sigh of relief in relation to two close calls.

"About 8.50pm on Saturday a 22-year-old man driving from Auckland to Taupo fell asleep at the wheel and his car left the road. When breathalysed he blew 833mgms, over twice the legal limit for alcohol.

"Then about 7am yesterday a 31-year-old woman driving from Te Awamutu to Auckland fell asleep at the wheel and crossed the median on SH1 at Mercer. When breath tested this woman came back with a return of 444mgms."

Mr Tooman said the legal limit is 400mgms per litre of breath and the woman was driving with three children in her car.

"When are drivers going to realise that getting on the booze then taking long journeys is a recipe for disaster?

"Not only are these drivers putting their own lives at risk they're putting the lives of other road users on the line as well."

Mr Tooman said heading into winter driving conditions the challenge following the success of last weekend was to maintain vigilance on the road.

"If we can do it for one weekend why can't we have the lower road tolls every weekend, or every week for that matter?"

Mr Tooman said Waikato Police were now heading into the winter road safety campaign with partner agencies and said a key focus was visibility on the roads.
"Our main request is drivers turn their headlights on to enhance their visibility and our message to cyclists is cars and trucks kill what they can't see, ensure you're wearing hi-visibility clothing and fit lights to your bike, front and rear.

"We're also asking farmers to ensure the integrity of their fences. Two weeks ago a driver died near Hinuera after his car collided with a cow on the road and last night another driver had close call on Gordonton Rd when a small truck collided with a cow near the cemetery and officers had to destroy the animal."

Mr Tooman said the key to driving to survive this winter was reducing the risk, whether that means reducing your speed, not drinking and driving or slowing down to 20km/h when passing stationary school buses.

"It's about making the right decisions and giving yourself options. A simple thing such as putting on a seat belt could have prevented 11 deaths in the Waikato last year."