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An interesting read re driving to Milford Sound


Apr 1st, 2017, 02:39 PM
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An interesting read re driving to Milford Sound

Just read this on Stuff our news website. Very sad that two young German tourists were the latest to be killed when their car crossed the centre-line and hit a tour bus.

nelsonian is online now  
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Apr 1st, 2017, 02:55 PM
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I've never found Milford Road particularly challenging (and we've driven it in winter), but I've seen some stupid tourist activity there - like the time a car in front of us came to a dead stop in the middle of a bridge so the tourists could pop out to take a picture.

Stupid, stupid, stupid.

I agree that overambitious itineraries probably play a big role, as does plain bad driving.

Very sad.
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Apr 1st, 2017, 07:24 PM
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Thanks for posting this informative article, Nelsonian. When I first saw photos of this particular Milford crash (resulting in deaths of two young Germans, one of whom drove across the centerline), I was horrified. They collided with a tour bus, whose passengers escaped.

Also sad is the growing number of accidents involving tour buses, whose passengers thought they were safer taking the bus, rather than self-driving in challenging or unfamiliar conditions. Some of these include 4 tourists seriously injured in Tongariro National Park in January, 7 people seriously injured on the road to Akaroa in February, and 7 people seriously injured on Arthur's Pass in January last year.
Overall, though, bus travel is safe.

The news reports of fatalities and serious injuries. But we rarely learn the extent of these serious injuries, which in many cases, are life-changing.

Surely living here makes me more aware of how many accidents there are. Scarcely a day goes by without a serious NZ road accident reported in the news, there are sometimes several in one day. In all honesty, my husband and I are more wary of embarking on NZ road trips now, especially during busier times. Winter also brings road hazards.

I feel for those who must drive long distances for work. Recently, there were reports of truck drivers quitting their jobs over increased risks on the alternative Picton-Christchurch route.
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Apr 2nd, 2017, 01:00 AM
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Very, very sad. Have driven that road a couple of times and, like Melnq8 didn't find it especially challenging . That is until we arrive at the Milford tunnel and switched on the headlights for the first time since picking up the van - no headlights! Pretty scary.

Concerning though this is, according to WHO stats, New Zealand remains one of the safer countries in which to drive with a a road accident death rate of 6 per 100k. Yes this is twice thatbof the UK (2.9/100k) but almost half that of the USA 10.9/100k.

I agree with Diamantina re the reporting of the long term effects of serious injury, due to RTAs . Perhaps if the media placed much more emphasis on this aspect it would encourage safer driving.

The relative lack of traffic during the winter/spring is one of the reasons why we like visiting at that time of year. I can't imagine what those roads would be like in the peak season.
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Apr 2nd, 2017, 08:21 AM
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Come to Cornwall. it's much safer.
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Apr 6th, 2017, 11:26 AM
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While a tragic story, the data says all you need to know (if crellston's stats are correct). Overall it's a safe place to drive, but anywhere you have more tourists than population, especially in the South Island, the statistics are going to be even more heavily weighted towards tourist accidents. If the rate of accidents on that stretch of road (and I agree there is nothing particularly dangerous about it) is significantly higher than other stretches of road, then they should start looking into ways to address those specific problems. I'd love to see that data if it exists. Tourists will not stay home, nor will they stop renting cars, nor will they stop driving longer-than-desirable distances as long as NZ stays as absolutely drop-dead amazing as it is. Hopefully that never changes!
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Apr 6th, 2017, 08:25 PM
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There are definitely accident "hotspots." One of our local accident hotspots is at the turn off for popular Moeraki Boulders. Several fatalities here led to increased safety measures.

Another local accident hot spot is the turn off for popular Tunnel Beach. Here, too, fatalities led to better signage. The victims were Korean nationals living and working in Waitaki (Oamaru area), but perhaps not so familiar with Dunedin.
Only a few years ago, we'd go to Tunnel Beach and maybe see 10 cars in the parking lot on a busy day. A few weeks ago, there were about 60 cars parked along Tunnel Beach Road.

NZ's roads are busier now and the NZ Transport Agency is trying to keep pace with these changes and make roads safer. More and better signage, more arrows painted on the road, more pull-outs, speed limit changes are some of the improvements they've made. We can do our part by reminding would-be visitors to take their time, and to let them know of what the roads are like.

I believe the 20 year old who was killed recently on Milford Road was a fairly inexperienced driver. Years ago, I met a young driver who told me he'd qualified for his license a month before coming to New Zealand. He told me he enjoyed Milford Road so much he drove it four times (two return trips) over two days. But at least he had learned to drive in a country where drivers also drive on the left.

It's not just tourists getting in preventable accidents:

I live in a quiet neighborhood of Dunedin. A few weeks ago there were two road accidents within blocks of my home, both in the middle of the day, neither involving tourists. One was in front of my home, a drunk driver in a company car. The car was totalled, my neighbor's car was totalled, the driver suffered minor injuries and was taken to the hospital. It could have been worse. Drivers need to slow down, not drink and driver, not cross the centreline (seems obvious, right?). At least a couple of times a year someone drives into Otago Harbor. it's almost always a local. Visitors tend to be more careful (and scared) on these harborside roads.

We haven't even addressed accidents involving cyclists.
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Apr 6th, 2017, 08:47 PM
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I guess I should have said an "alleged drunk drive in a company car.""
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Apr 7th, 2017, 06:35 AM
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Good points. Also, I am an avid road cyclist, and while the idea of enjoying the beauty of NZ on a bicycle sounds very appealing, I would probably never do that due to the narrow roads. We ran across so many cycling tours on the road through Haast Pass, in the rain no less, that I was very afraid for them.

Unfortunately bad driving will never be cured. Certainly autonomous driving will someday address this (disclaimer: I work for a large multi-national high-tech company working on autonomous driving solutions), but I'm not overly excited about that notion. Not because I don't think it will save lives, but because I am also a car enthusiast and I believe in negative phsycological impacts of having everything done for you. But that's another discussion ...
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