Crashes on the Saddle Road have fallen considerably in the last couple of months and Police are praising truckies for the courteous driving that has helped to contribute to this result.
Since the closure of the Manawatu Gorge from a major slip last year, the Saddle Road and Pahiatua Track have both seen significant increases in traffic and crashes.
Although the total numbers of crashes are relatively small there were 8 on the Saddle Road in January this year and that compares to no crashes in January 2011. There were similar spikes in September (8) and December (6).
The Pahiatua Track that would traditionally have no crashes or 1 crash per month has been experiencing between 2 and 4.
In a bid to try and prevent further issues Police introduced Operation Detour dedicating Officer Senior Constable Graeme Topping to the area from the middle of January this year in addition to the routine patrols that work around the clock. Initially he had an emphasis on the Saddle Road due to particular issues on that route but he is now able to provide equal attention to the Pahiatua Track.
Senior Constable Topping is in the area daily providing enhanced visibility and using a combination of education and enforcement. He has made particular note of the truck drivers who, in the main, are making noticeable efforts to be courteous to other motorists.
The operation is also providing local residents with a familiar face which is helping them to raise any issues of concern.
After crashes peaked at 8 in January, they fell to 4 in February. So far this month there has been just 2, a reduction since January of 75% and a trend Police would like to see continue. Road Policing Manager, Acting Inspector Jeanette Park said: "We know the situation with the gorge is frustrating but we are fortunate to at least have an alternative route and we have to do all we can together to make the situation work. There are a number of companies and agencies putting a lot of effort in and it is paying dividends."