from Kapiti News

The planned motorway from Ōtaki to north of Levin could save more than 28 people from serious injury or death over five years, AA research suggests.

The road was last estimated to cost $1.5 billion and will connect with the recently opened Peka Peka to Ōtaki expressway.

The existing stretch of State Highway 1 has been labelled a “killing field” after former coroner Philip Comber noted the road is marked like a battlefield with white crosses.

Over the past five years, 19 people have been killed and 56 have been seriously injured on the road.

Tepihi Kauwhata’s mother Wendy was one of them. A two-car crash claimed her life, put her partner in an induced coma, and left a 15-year-old boy needing surgery for two broken femurs.

Kauwhata said the person driving the other car was under the influence of drugs and fell asleep at the wheel.

He said he experiences post-traumatic stress every time there is another crash on the road.

“My baby’s only 6 months old and he’ll never meet my mum and [a new road is] worth it if it means people don’t have to go through that type of stuff.

“It’s too late for us but it will be good for someone else.”

Kauwhata said people also needed to take responsibility for the way they drive.

“It can be the best road in the world but if they’re still going to drive erratically and dangerously, there’s still going to be a risk no matter what. People need to slow down and take their time.

A new AA study, “Safety Benefits of New Roads”, found building a new road or bypass reduced deaths and serious injuries on average by more than a third.

Seven roads across the country were analysed. Crashes on both the new and old roads combined were compared to when there was just the old road in operation.

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