SH1 drivers crash on bends more often


Police are warning drivers travelling through the central North Island this weekend to slow down and take care on bends.

Police are warning drivers travelling through the central North Island this weekend to slow down and take care on bends.

Statistics show that drivers travelling on State Highway 1 in the Taupo and South Waikato Districts are far more likely to crash on bends than drivers on other New Zealand roads. 50% of crashes on this stretch of SH1 occur on bends, compared to 32% across New Zealand. The statistics were gathered as part of the SWATT road safety project.

Taupo Road Policing Manager Senior Sergeant Fane Troy says the main problem is that drivers approach bends too fast. Other factors include impatience, inattention and fatigue.

“Our advice to drivers this weekend is ‘Take your time and be patient’. Once we eliminate the urgency, we eliminate a lot of the risk.

“On this stretch of highway, drivers are often travelling long distances. Fatigue is something we can’t measure accurately but we know it is a major factor in crashes in this area. And in holiday traffic, the result is often death or serious injury. So if you’re travelling long distance, take a break every two hours.”

Police will be highly visible this weekend, with patrols concentrating on known crash areas and targeting ‘at risk’ drivers – drivers who speed, drive dangerously or hold up holiday traffic.

The SWATT (South Waikato and Taupo Target) road safety project – which seeks to reduce crash trauma on the 200km of SH1 in the Taupo and South Waikato Districts – was launched in 2005 and continues in 2009.

NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) State Highway Manager Kaye Clark says the SWATT project continues to identify risk issues on this section of SH1 which are different to other highways.

“For example, more drivers in the 40-59 age group crash on this stretch of highway than they do in other parts of New Zealand, which is unusual,” she says. “These statistics help us address unique issues in specific areas.”

Over the next nine months, the SWATT project will continue its successful driver education campaign through the use of billboards, publicity, radio advertising and local event promotions. Issues to be addressed include speed, fatigue, travelling distance, driving to the conditions, restraints and visibility.

SWATT is a multi-agency campaign including the NZ Transport Agency, Police, South Waikato and Taupo District Councils, Environment Waikato and ACC. The project has targeted 100km/hr areas where drivers typically lose control of their vehicles and can cause head-on crashes.

In the South Waikato District, fatal and serious injury crashes dropped markedly from 2005 to 2008 in open road areas covered by the project. While numbers are still below the levels of 2004, they are now rising again. In the Taupo District, fatal and serious injury crashes peaked in 2008 and have dropped in 2009. 

For more information please contact: 

Julie Hannam
Regional Communications Advisor
NZ Transport Agency
DDI 64 7 958 7238
M 027 294 2649