Firey: ‘Punish drivers’


A volunteer firefighter who deals with some of the district’s deadliest crashes is calling for tougher penalties for dangerous drivers.

Athol and Garston chief fire officer Rob Durling is responsible for one of the district’s most dangerous stretches of highway.

His volunteer firefighters are often the first on the scene at crashes in the Kingston area, on what he calls “a nasty bit of road”.

Police figures show Queenstown cops received 3038 calls about bad driving behaviour last year, up 14 per cent on the 2642 calls in 2016.

Durling says an increased police presence has had an impact, and they’ve been called to fewer crashes in the past few months.

But that doesn’t mean dangerous driving has been reduced, he says.

“Just yesterday a car tried to overtake me, and the oncoming truck had to brake.

“It happens all the time, people are always braced for something to happen outside their place.

“Certainly the police presence is getting people to slow down, but some of the risks are still being taken.”

He’s keen to see tougher penalties for dangerous driving, such as crossing the centre line or passing without 100 metres of clear road ahead.

“Police do a great job, but their hands are tied.

“They [the drivers] should get thumped.”

Sergeant Chris Brooks says it’s hard to find trends when it comes to bad driving behaviour, as the type of driving and who’s responsible can change depending on the day.

“What annoys me is not being able to get to them,” he says.

“Because that’s potentially someone else down the road that’s going to get hurt.”

He says police have made an effort to increase their presence in the Kingston/Garston area, which has led to a significant drop in the number of crashes.