Chris Lane Writes…

Trauma Doctor still worries about safety on SH1 through Kapiti

By Alan Tristram

We’re proud to say the best-known trauma doctor in the Wellington Region, Dr Chris Lane, has joined the team of correspondents writing for the Kapiti Independent.

Dr Lane — MNZM, MB ChB, FRACGP, FRNZCGP – founded Kapiti’s unique Emergency Medical Service (EMS) 20 years ago.

Since then, he has attended virtually every fatal crash on Centennial Highway and most serious crashes on other parts of SH1 through Kapiti.

In 2005, Chris was recognised as a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit in recognition of his services to the community. And he’s received many other awards.

Dr Lane is a Fellow of the Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners and is a clinical Senior Lecturer at Otago University’s Wellington School of Medicine.  Here’s his first column —

Kapiti’s Dangerous Roads

By Dr Chris Lane

Kapiti has some of the most dangerous roads for travellers in New Zealand.

Around 25,000 vehicle movements per day occur along State Highway 1 (SH1). This total includes about 6000 trucks.

A large extent of this highway in this region is single laned.

For many reasons – tiredness, loss of concentration, distraction, or even something as simple as changing a CD, can lead to a change in direction in areas where there is no median barrier. And we are all aware of the terrible loss of human life when this occurs and a vehicle strays into oncoming traffic.

Median barriers can save lives

To add to the tragedy is the knowledge that the loss of life could have been prevented with a median barrier in place.

NZTA claim lack of available funds to be able to erect these barriers.

However, whenever a person dies as a result of a motor vehicle accident this costs the country over $3.3 million dollars.

Among other things, as this person no longer buys their milk, pays their taxes and so on. Similarly a serious injury costs the country over $563,000.

It does not take a genius to realise that these barriers eventually pay for themselves.

The ‘notorious’ Centennial Highway

A good example of this is the notorious stretch of road known as Centennial Highway.

In the 5.5km coastal portion, 29 people were killed in the last 20 years. About twice that number were seriously injured.

That means almost $33 million dollars was lost despite the anguish and tragedy of the accidents.

Once a median barrier was placed there, at a cost of $15 million dollars, head-on collisions stopped immediately.

The barrier has been hit over 80 times since it was erected and one could pause to reflect on how much the barrier has saved and what it cost to build.