Coroner urges road markings review after Christchurch intersection death

A coroner is recommending reviews to Christchurch‘s road marking, after a fatal crash at an intersection that had been flagged as dangerous.

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Colleen Margaret Case, who was an “independent and active” 83-year-old, died in January 2018 at the intersection between Logistics Drive and Sawyers Arms Road.

She failed to stop her car at a stop sign and was struck by a truck, while turning onto the road.

The accident was just over 10 months after a Transport Agency (NZTA) safety audit identified the intersection as one of “significant concern” – and six weeks after the police told the council the word ‘STOP‘ was no longer visible on the road and urgently needed repainting.

NZTA‘s contractor Downer made some repairs after the audit, and the council issued Citycare a service request to do the repainting after the report from the police, but the council did not mark the job as urgent or highlight any “absent road marking” which would have seen the work completed within six hours.

Subsequently, Citycare treated it as “to be programmed” and that meant its subcontractor Fulton Hogan had not done the repainting by the time of the crash.

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In the coroner‘s report released today, Coroner David Robinson said Ms Case‘s inattention was the likely cause of the collision, but assumptions had been made about the priority of re-marking of the intersection.

“I recommend that Christchurch City Council and Citycare Ltd review their processes as to the assignment of priority for reinstating road marking, necessarily involving prompt inspection of the subject site in order that an informed decision be made as to the priority to be assigned to the work,” he said.

In a statement, Christchurch City Council said it was throroughly reviewing the Coroner‘s report.

Council services manager David Adamson said it was continually reviewing its processes and had reinforced its expectations to all of its road maintenance contractors that any concerns about safety-related road markings must be responded to with urgency.

He also offered the council‘s sincere condolences to Ms Case‘s family.

“We take any road crashes in the district very seriously and are committed to doing all we can to ensure the safety of all road users,” he said.

“We will now thoroughly review the Coroner‘s findings to ensure our practices and processes are aligned with the recommendations made.”

The road markings were repainted the day after the crash happened, and Mr Robinson made no recommendations about changing the intersection itself.

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