A badly damaged fence, a written-off car and a crash that could have easily killed someone.
Hilderthorpe resident Helen Simmons is frustrated road safety messages appear to be falling on deaf ears as motorists continue to drive dangerously outside her home, most recently resulting in a car crashing into her fence.
On October 8 at 8.30am, emergency services were called to a single-vehicle crash in Hilderthorpe-Pukeuri Rd where a Honda Fit, travelling south, crossed the centre line, and crashed into Ms Simmons’ fence on the other side of the road. The male driver escaped through the passenger window, with minor injuries, and told Ms Simmons that ‘‘he must have fallen asleep’’.
Ms Simmons understood the man bought his vehicle in Tauranga two days earlier, caught the Interislander ferry at 8pm on October 7, and had driven straight from Picton, heading to his home in Dunedin.
‘‘He made the conscious decision to make that drive but it’s the fact that he totally disregarded, in doing that, what he potentially might do to others,’’ she said.
The car badly damaged the fence — and Ms Simmons and her insurance had to foot the bill
— but it stopped the driver ‘‘in his tracks’’.
‘‘I guess with any accident there’s always the ‘what could have happened’. He could have killed somebody so easily.’’
The vehicle remained against the fence, surrounded by police tape, for a week after the crash. Emergency services were called to the scene again on October 15 when a motorist driving past mistakenly thought the crash had just occurred.
A tow-truck removed the vehicle later that day, and the removal people told Ms Simmons the car’s catalytic converter had been stolen.
‘‘Because there was this inaction from this guy . . . that then could have taken the emergency services away from another incident. It’s allowed thieves to take something and it also meant that my property was a little bit compromised.’’
Her front lawn was still covered in hub caps, broken glass, plastic and rubbish from the crash — and the man had made no attempt to contact her.
In the 10 years Ms Simmons had lived in Hilderthorpe, she had only witnessed a handful of crashes, but watched as motorists overtook one another dangerously on a regular basis.
‘‘You almost wait to hear that crash,’’ she said.
She watched police regularly patrol the area, but said they could not be everywhere and she wished people would just stick to the speed limit.
Safety messages were road side telling people to watch their speed and fatigue, but accidents kept happening.
‘‘It’s almost like it becomes white noise — people just don’t listen to those messages any more.’’
Sergeant Blair Wilkinson, of Oamaru, said fatigue in the transport industry was monitored by logbooks, but for private vehicles the responsibility fell solely on the driver to manage.
‘‘People just need to be very realistic when they’re planning their journeys on capability,’’ Sgt Wilkinson said.
Police encouraged the public to report unsafe driving to *555.
‘‘We would remind drivers to make sure that they’ve got sufficient clear space ahead and the time saved by a risky overtaking manoeuvre is never worth the shortening of the journey.’’
Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency statistics reveal there have been five crashes between the northern entrance of Oamaru and Hilderthorpe on State Highway 1 this year, and 97 over the past 10 years, resulting in 53 injuries and one death, in 2011.