Truck drivers point out most treacherous roads

Otago-based truck drivers spend hours travelling on the region's roads every day, experiencing road conditions first-hand and sometimes witnessing accidents.

Among causes identified by drivers as factors in crashes they have noticed are wintry conditions, drivers taking risks, and inexperienced motorists.

Cromwell man Allan McIvor (64), a driver for McNulty's Transport, believed he had travelled about 1.7 million kilometres over the past 15 years on his route between Cromwell and Queenstown.

The ''dodgiest'' section of road in the region was the Kawarau Gorge, he said.

''It's bloody diabolical at times, but you just have to get used to it.''

While winter conditions in the gorge could be dangerous, he was not surprised the majority of accidents happened in late summer.

''There was one year I went back to work after Christmas and had three near misses in three days, due to idiots.''

Mr McIvor said he experienced a near miss ''pretty close to a smash-up'' once a month as a result of people crossing centre lines or attempting to pass on the narrow road through the gorge.

During summer more people took ''stupid'' risks, he said.

Accidents were the result of driver behaviour, as the road's condition had improved over the past five to six years, Mr McIvor said.

Darrel Ferris, a truck driver from Te Anau, said he had driven for about 35 years in Southland and Otago and in particular, the route to Milford Sound.

That road, SH94, is listed by the NZTA as having a ''high'' personal risk factor, a measure of the risk to each individual using a state highway.

''You really have to watch yourself on that road. It's probably more [dangerous in] summer time when the weather is good, so they [drivers] go a lot quicker.''

People stopping in inappropriate places and overtaking on blind corners were both common, he said.

Ranfurly-based McLaren Transport's director Chris Spratt said he was surprised by the high number of accidents during February and the low number of accidents for which weather was a factor.

''It does surprise me but if you think about it you would have to measure the volume of vehicles over the year.''

While the road between Kyeburn and Mosgiel, SH87, which is classed as high personal risk by the NZTA, was subject to weather in winter such as snow and ice, the biggest problem on the road was rental vehicles.

''They are pretty big contributors to a lot of accidents. That road has some interesting terrain, a lot of up and down.''

Not driving to the conditions and lack of experience were also contributors on the road, which was ''pretty reasonable'' in terms of its maintenance and management, he said.

The worst road in the area was the Pigroot between Ranfurly and Palmerston, which Mr Spratt described as ''absolutely disgraceful''.

''It's a wonder there's not more accidents on that road,'' he said.

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