A senior Waikato Police officer says if it wasn’t for the efforts of concerned members of the public and policing staff, the Labour Weekend road toll could have been far worse.
Two people lost their lives on Waikato roads over the long weekend with fatal accidents near Matamata and Pirongia on Saturday and Sunday respectively.
On Saturday, the body of 21-year-old motorcyclist Stoney Arthur Stephen Brown was discovered in a paddock near the intersection of Hutchinson and Matamata-Walton roads, at about 5.30am.
The Serious Crash Unit is currently investigating but initial indications suggest the motorcyclist failed to negotiate a T-intersection and collided with a bank, with his body being flung from his motorcycle.
Then on Sunday, a 32-year-old pedestrian lost his life when he was struck on State Highway 39 by two northbound trucks at the southern end of Pirongia.
Waikato Road Policing Manager Inspector Freda Grace says both fatalities involved two men carrying out non-holiday related, every day activities.
“It goes to show that regardless of the time of year road users need to treat the road and others on it with respect, after all, road safety is no accident.”
Freda says the potential for disaster was apparent even before the official holiday period started last Friday afternoon.
Shortly before 4pm on Friday, police stopped a vehicle carrying a family of five heading north on SH1 at the northern end of the Waikato Expressway.
The vehicle was recorded travelling at 113km/h, and when stopped, police found that neither the mother, father nor the three children were wearing seatbelts.
“The potential for serious injury or even worse if you are in a car that crashes at that speed are huge and it’s really not on.”
A number of motorists were snapped travelling at high speeds, including a motorcyclist who was stopped on n Cambridge Rd outside Te Awamutu stopped after being recorded travelling at 123km/h. The motorcyclist also returned a breath alcohol reading of 687mgs.
High speeds weren’t limited to motorcycles either, with one car driver stopped on SH1 at Taupiri on Friday night travelling at 186km/h and another stopped in the same area doing 153km/h.
But on a positive note, Freda says intervention by members of the public probably saved the life of one driver described in a driving complaint as weaving all over the Paeroa-Tahuna Rd on Sunday.
“That call from the public led to a Morrinsville patrol pulling the vehicle over about 3.20pm,” she explains. “The 24-year-old Hamilton man, who was on a zero-alcohol license, returned a breath alcohol reading of 1062mgs when breath tested.
“He told the officer he had been up all night drinking and watching the rugby and was on his way home.
“Considering this is a major through road and crosses SH27, he was putting himself and other motorists at serious risk.”