Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Staying alive on Highway 5

A Hawke’s Bay road safety campaign launched in November is proving a success, with no fatal crashes recorded along a notorious stretch of State Highway 5 since it began.

The ‘Stay Alive on 5’ campaign was launched in a bid to prevent fatal and serious crashes on the Napier-Taupo road.

Police Constable Steven Knox created the initiative, saying he’s motivated to improve local roads after losing a close friend in a crash.

“Since its launch eight months ago, there have been no fatal crashes along the highway. The campaign has also seen a 22% decrease in crashes,” Constable Knox said.

As part of the campaign, 1073 vehicles have been stopped for various reasons and 557 tickets and written traffic warnings have been issued.

“We have increased our interactions on State Highway 5 by 417 percent on the previous year,” Constable Knox said.

“In addition to the billboards, repair work and fatigue stops, we have increased the use of mufti cars and night patrols which has seen good success.

“We have also increased the amount of driving complaints caught by 166 percent due to our extra patrols.

“This decrease in crashes, means the social cost to the country has decreased by $14,310,600 on the previous year to date.

“Data gathered shows there has been a slight spike in motorists travelling in excess of 130kmh, but we don’t believe there has been an increase in speeding drivers.

“I believe with our extra presence we are stopping these people, where previously they may have gone through un-detected. The driving behaviour on State Highway 5 is definitely improving and I thank the travellers for this,” Constable Knox said.

A key tool of the campaign is an increased Police presence and visibility on the road with both marked and unmarked patrol vehicles working in tandem, and the use of speed camera vans.

“A Police presence on the road is a powerful deterrent to speed and dangerous driving, such as risky overtaking manoeuvres. We also want to urge motorists to take regular breaks on their journey.”

Drivers have been rewarded for their good behaviour, such as pulling over to use their phone, having a break or letting traffic past, by giving them a reusable ‘Stay Alive on 5’ coffee cup.

Going forward, the plan for the next six months is to keep up local patrols and look at utilising different tactical vehicles, such as mufti vehicles or a Police motorbike.

“There are extra road works going on to improve the road conditions and we will be monitoring speed through active road work sites as we need to keep those who are working hard up there, safe too,” Constable Knox said.

“Every death or serious injury that has resulted from crashes on our roads is a terrible tragedy for everyone affected. We are always looking at ways to make the roads safer. We know that people make mistakes, but no one deserves to pay with their life.

“We will continue to be visible on the road, so motorists see us and stop and think about their driving.”

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