Vans, utes in fatal crashes

Vans and utility vehicles are involved in about 15% of all fatal crashes in Otago and Southland, despite making up just 12% of the vehicle fleet.

Data from the New Zealand Transport Agency showed there had been 256 fatal and 1361 serious injury crashes involving vans and utility vehicles nationwide in the five years to December 2012.

Of those, 13 fatal and 91 serious injury crashes occurred in Otago.

There had been 73 serious van and utility crashes in Southland (including eight fatal), 199 in Canterbury (20 fatal), and 34 on the West Coast (six fatal).

Since 2007, there had been 143 fatal crashes in Otago and Southland, of which 14.7% (21) involved vans and utility vehicles.

Eleven of those crashes occurred on state highways at or near Katiki, Gore, Cromwell, Millers Flat, Lawrence, Lumsden, Te Anau, Winton and Lorneville.

Others occurred at Waitaki, Heriot, Tuapeka Mouth, Makarewa Junction and Mosgiel, in the Ida Valley and the Maniototo, and on the Papatowai Highway between Kahuika and Owaka.

New Zealand Automobile Association (AA) Otago chairman Jeff Donaldson said the association did not believe vans or utility vehicles were any less safe than other vehicles.

''We haven't noticed a trending increase in van and utility crashes, or had that suggested to us by any of our members,'' he said.

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