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NZTA looking at highway safety installation after fatal crash report

Waka Kotahi New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) is working on implementing recommendations from a coroner's report into a fatal crash near Gisborne in 2018.

Erica Lynne Delany Jones, 26, died after her car collided with a fully-laden log truck on State Highway 35 at the bottom of Tatapouri-Makorori hill on November 10.

A coroner's report into her death recommended NZTA instal an interactive solar flashing sign before the bend and rise up the hill to alert drivers to their speed.

It also recommended NZTA consider reconfiguration of the roading camber and layout to allow a left-hand slow vehicle passing lane as a means to incentivise safer driving of heavy vehicles and to avoid manoeuvring on to the incorrect side of the road to climb the hill.

Waka Kotahi regional relationships director Linda Stewart said the agency was in the early stages of an investigation into the possible installation of a speed warning sign for southbound traffic on State Highway 35 in advance of the curve at Tatapouri-Makorori hill.

“Waka Kotahi would like to express our deepest sympathies to the Jones whanau for their loss. Our thoughts are with them and everyone else affected by Erica's tragic passing.

“Waka Kotahi is continuing work to strengthen and stabilise State Highway 35, with improvements completed, under construction, or planned for construction at 28 sites along the road. Work is also continuing on 25 slow vehicle lanes and 10 pull-over sites to provide more safe places to pass slow vehicles and more places to pull off the road safely to check messages or take a break on State Highways 2 and 35.

“Last year we introduced safer speed limits on State Highway 35 between Gisborne and Pouawa.

“Waka Kotahi will also be implementing safer speed limits on State Highway 35 between Te Puia Springs and Tokomaru Bay to improve safety of people travelling on this section of the road.”

■ The whanau of Ms Jones yesterday gave a statement following the release of a coroner's report which found the truck driver was responsible for the fatal crash.

“It's been a long process for our whanau. We carry this pain and burden daily and miss Erica every day.

“This report doesn't change the fact that she has passed but we are happy we can bring some closure to this part.

“Forestry is a major industry in Te Tairawhiti, it's not going away, and we expect that there will be more trucks on the road in the coming years. We do hope that there are lessons learnt from this so that a tragic, avoidable death like this one is never repeated.

“We wish to thank all of our whanau, and everyone who has been supportive of us from the time of the accident, to today. Your continued aroha means so much to us.

“E kore te aroha e maroke i te ra.”

  1. Regular Road User, Uawa says:

    How much lower can you take the speed limit?
    Try cutting off some of those corners on the roads, there are so many I can think of – that one at Tatapouri is one.
    Those flashing signs telling drivers to slow down when they’re going over the speed limit are a waste of time; replace these with cameras.
    Much aroha to the Jones whanau. Let’s hope some improvement to our roads will happen soon. Fix up those corners on our roads.