Caution urged on Central Otago roads in busy season

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Police are still reminding drivers to take their time and look out for each other over the summer season.

Central Otago sub-area supervisor Senior Sergeant Ian Kerrisk said it was a busy season with a lot of traffic but he was pleased there had been few incidents and no fatalities.

“We’ve been lucky, Central Otago through the Christmas-New Year break has actually been very good,” Snr Sgt Kerrisk said.

Having respect for emergency service workers and people in need was one issue Snr Sgt Kerrisk wanted to remind the public about.

He praised members of the public who were at the scene of a recent crash in Clyde on the corner of Young Lane and Springvale Rd.

A car came off the lane and rolled, and people were able to help the driver out of the car.

“The car was extensively damaged, the guy luckily was OK.

“They got him out, the car was smoking, and power lines were down, fantastic effort by members of the public.”

But an incident on New Year’s Day was a disappointment to him.

“We had a distressed gentleman on the Clyde Bridge, and we had emergency services there and we were able to successfully bring him off the bridge and into care.

“One of the concerns were a couple of people making stupid comments to him – not helpful.”

“While they may have thought it was funny, it wasn’t helpful,” Snr Sgt Kerrisk said.

Another incident that caused problems for emergency crews was during the Wanaka fire on Mt Alpha last week.

A man was flying a drone near the fire, which caused eight helicopters that were fighting the fire to be grounded for 15 minutes.

“In the middle of a huge operation to contain a fire, we’ve got someone flying a drone, Snr Sgt Kerrisk said.

The person had been charged and had appeared in court.

Common sense needed to prevail, which included being respectful of emergency service crews, he said.

Alexandra road policing group Sergeant Bruce Martin encouraged people to think about their own safety and the safety of others.

“We do have drivers that are not familiar with the area, coming in and they are travelling a bit slow, but they need to be conscious of what’s behind them.

“Where it is safe, pull over and let the other drivers pass,” he said.

Drivers over the busy summer season needed to be patient, and expect journeys could take a bit longer.

“Taking risks won’t get you there any faster,” he said.

One issue he reminded drivers of was ensuring rear-vision mirrors were adequate when towing large items such as boats or caravans.

“This is a requirement by law,” he said.

There had been a few drink-driving incidents which was disappointing, Sgt Martin said.

One drink-driver recorded a reading of more than 1000mcg of alcohol per litre of breath.

“That’s a major danger to everyone on the road,” he said.

Four risk areas for drivers were alcohol, speed, cellphones and seat belts.

“Wearing a seat belt, it’s a no-brainer really. Why wouldn’t you wear it?

“It’s one of the biggest things that will save you from serious injury or possibly death,” Sgt Martin said.

“Take a bit longer, don’t take risks. It won’t save you any time.”

The Ministry of Transport Christmas-New Year road toll was 1 fatalities, seven fewer than the previous year.