New barrier credited with first save

A wire barrier at the edge of a steep drop on Highcliff Rd appears to have saved its first...
A wire barrier at the edge of a steep drop on Highcliff Rd appears to have saved its first motorist. Photo: Stephen Jaquiery
The three metal poles bent almost at right angles on the edge of a steep drop on  Otago Peninsula tell the story of what appears to be a lucky escape.

The posts on Highcliff Rd were mown down yesterday, a witness said, after the drivers of two cars tried to overtake a camper van on the way to  Dunedin.

One car was shunted heavily into the wire rope barrier built this year by the Dunedin City Council.

Amanda Hosking, the mother of a 16-year-old girl whose car was shunted into the barrier, said her daughter was "lucky to be alive".

"It was a shock to hear what happened because my dad died on Monday.

"Amidst everything it was so scary, because it could have been two funerals in one week."

Ms Hosking’s daughter, who did not want to be named, was too shaken to discuss the incident.

"She thought she was going to die."

The family believed the new wire barriers on the road west of the Centre Rd intersection saved the young driver, who was on her restricted licence.

Injuries and deaths have occurred on the stretch of road in the past after people went off the road and down the steep bank.

Council transport group manager Richard Saunders said the  outcome of the incident  was "exactly the reason those sort of safety projects are undertaken".

The barrier is part of work worth $1.6million — including slip repair and the more than 1km long barrier — completed recently.

A farmer who saw  the crash said he was following the camper van and two cars.

The man, who asked not to be named, said the last car overtook the vehicle which was behind the camper van. As that happened, the other car  also pulled out to overtake, "and smashed it into the guide rails".

The man said the vehicles left the scene, but he spoke to the driver who hit the fence further down the road.

She was upset, and the side of her car was badly scraped.

"It fair bounced into that bloody fence. She would have been gone."

Ms Hosking said it was "heartwarming" the man had spoken to her daughter following the incident.

Mr Saunders said if the story was correct, he was happy the barrier had prevented "what could have been a quite serious injury".

"It’s never a good thing when there is an incident, but we do try to ensure where there are incidents we’ve done our best to prevent serious injury.

Mr Saunders said the road was identified as "an area of risk". People stopped to see the nearby Soldiers Memorial,  a lot of tourists used it, and there had been incidents of people driving off the road.

"That pointed to a need for us to review the safety, and wire ropes were deemed to be suitable. Obviously in this instance they’ve done their job."

He said he would send staff to the site to  look at the damage.

david.loughrey@odt.co.nz

Comments

Would not have saved a motorcyclist though.