11 Oct 2017

Top police officer in despair at 'bloody terrible' road toll

10:21 am on 11 October 2017

No amount of money will fix the rising road toll if drivers are not responsible the National Road Policing manager says, after the latest crash killed four people and badly injured three including a 10-month-old.

Superintendent Steve Greally spoke of his horror over the carnage on the country's roads after the latest crash claimed four more lives.

Police today revealed a five-year-old boy was among the dead from the crash yesterday, and a baby, two toddlers and a teen were taken to hospital, along with four adults

A baby is one of three badly hurt people in Waikato Hospital. Four others are in a stable condition in Rotorua Hospital.

Emergency services at the crash site north of Taupō

Emergency services at the crash site north of Taupō yesterday. Photo: Supplied / Philips Search & Rescue Trust

The head-on smash just north of Taupō Tuesday afternoon closed State Highway 1 for hours.

On Sunday a collision in Southland killed three people including the parents of two young children who were pulled alive from the wreckage.

"It's a bloody terrible thing to have happened. I can't believe it after the carnage we've had in the last 72 hours to be honest - it's just so damned unnecessary really," he said.

"We've got four lives [lost], haven't we. We've got four people - irrespective of where they're from, who they are - they had futures, they had families, friends - today they don't.

"You ask anybody who's lost a loved one on our roads in any way, you can't get that back, you can't replicate it, you can't hope you'll get another person like that. Families are torn apart, completely unnecessarily in most cases."

National manager road policing, Superintendent Steve Greally.

Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

He said there were peaks and troughs but road trauma was trending up and it was more than a mere spike.

"I wish it was a spike, but it's not a spike as we understand it. The trend is quite clear - in the last four years road trauma has increased in this country."

He said it was not about having enough money to try to fix the problem.

"You could double or triple or quadruple our budgets, end of the day we cannot be in the pub with you when you decide to have that extra drink.

"We cannot be with you in the car when you decide to approach a corner too fast and you think about overtaking. We can't be in the car with you to tell you to put your belt on.

"Unfortunately as adults we are the ones that are charged with that responsibility."

Fourteen people have been killed on the roads since Friday and at least another 19 have been injured.

Mr Greally said this latest crash had been particularly hard for the officers.

"It's not just police ... it's the fire officers that turn up, it's the towies that turn up to take away the cars ... these things are just so horrific.

"Spare a thought too for those officers that are going to have to knock on someone's door now and share that bad news, that tragic news, that mum or dad or the kids or someone has passed away because someone made a stupid decision at some point.

"It's just senseless stuff."

Crash site not a 'hot spot' - Taupō mayor

Taupō mayor David Trewavas said there has been bad crashes before on the stretch of road where four people died yesterday.

Mr Trewavas told Morning Report it was a busy, clear day on SH1 yesterday with the school holidays, and the crash happened on section or read that leads to the popular Orakei Korako geothermal area.

'I wouldn't call it a hot spot or a dangerous spot but there has been .... loss of life there before."

He said it was a busy road with many international and New Zealand tourists as well as locals using the route.

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