Fatal accidents prompt warning

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Police are pleading with road users to be vigilant on Central Otago roads, following a spate of fatal road crashes over the holiday period.

Three serious road crashes – including one fatality – occurred in the Cromwell district during the official holiday period from 4pm on December 23, 2016 to 6am on Wednesday, January 4, and two more fatalities have occurred on the Crown Range Rd and near Alexandra since then.

A man was killed when his motorcycle hit a fence in Cromwell on December 29, four people were injured when a vehicle rolled near Tarras on January 1, and two people were lucky to escape injury when a ute rear-ended a car in the Cromwell Gorge the same day.

A pedestrian was killed after he was hit by a car on State Highway 8 near Alexandra on January 5 and a motorcyclist was killed in a collision with a car on the Crown Range Rd on January 6.

Central Otago sub-area supervisor Senior Sergeant Ian Kerrisk said the incidents were tragic.

“It’s been a horror end of 2016 and start of 2017. The effect on those families and friends [of those who were killed] and on the community is huge. The plea we [police] have is that we don’t want to lose anyone else. Please be safe and keep others safe as well . It’s everyone’s responsibility. It’s not just up to police to keep people safe, it’s up to everyone to police themselves.”

Snr Sgt Kerrisk said it was vital people heeded basic road safety messages, particularly over the holiday period, when the volume of traffic on Central Otago and Queenstown Lakes district roads more than doubled.

Drivers needed to keep their speed down, wear seatbelts and not drink and drive.

“Slow down and have patience . and drive to the conditions. The faster you go, the bigger the mess is a slogan that came out a while ago and it hasn’t changed.

“People are still not wearing their seatbelts. They do save lives.

“And when it comes to alcohol, if you are drinking, make safe-travel plans before you go out and stick to them. Every hotel has courtesy coaches these days – there is absolutely no excuse for drinking and driving.”

Snr Sgt Kerrisk also urged motorists to be particularly aware of motorcyclists, and for motorcyclists to “be safe and be visible”.

He said dealing with the high number of road crashes in Central Otago had been challenging for emergency services, especially volunteer ambulance and fire officers.

The calibre of those in the emergency services in the district was extremely high, and there was a good, supportive and professional relationship between police, ambulance and fire officers, Snr Sgt Kerrisk said.

Professional support was available to all emergency service personnel following traumatic incidents, he said.