29 Jul 2009

Road safety campaign on Chathams after fatality

3:16 pm on 29 July 2009

Visitors to the Chatham Islands may be discouraged from hiring cars to drive themselves around as part of the region's new road safety campaign.

A road safety committee has been re-established following the island's first fatal accident in a decade.

New Zealand Transport Agency compiled a report to identify the island's roading issues following the fatality, and the Chatham Islands Council subsequently allocated $20,000 to get the committee running after a year-long hiatus.

Although alcohol was a factor, the driver who died in the crash last year had lived on the Chathams for only six months.

Road safety committee co-ordinator Tracy McLean says more than half the accidents that take place on the island involve visitors, who are often not accustomed to driving on metal roads, or to driving four-wheel drive vehicles.

Ms McLean says tourism providers are being encouraged to provide shuttle transport for visitors rather than hiring them cars, given the unique driving conditions.

She says the main issues facing the island's drivers are drink driving, wandering stock and inadequate roading signs.

Ms McLean, who is also an ambulance officer, says serious injury road crashes are relatively unusual, occurring every few years.