' Crash Driver admits nodding off '

THE train driver involved in a major derailment in Taranaki last year has admitted falling asleep at the controls. A report released by the Transport Accident Investigation Commission (TAIA) last week stated the drivers involved in three accidents last year had dozed off while in control of Tranz Rail trains.

The November accident at Kai Iwi, south of Waverley, spilt 40,000 litres of Kiwi Co-operative Dairies milk. The other accidents attributed to snoozing drivers involved a freight train at Westmere, near Wanganui last September, and a head-on crash between two express trains in December.

Despite the drivers' actions, the TAIC was not critical of them in the report. Instead it recommended to Tranz Rail that it change the way the company approached driver rosters, and made checks on how many hours they were working. Rail and Marine Transport Union spokesman Brian Cronin, of Wellington, said yesterday safety problems with the rail company had been well documented in the past year. Sleep deprivation and overworked drivers had been a major problem with Tranz Rail. However, Mr Cronin said things were now starting to move in the right direction, with Tranz Rail improving its safety standards. Kiwi Co-Operative Dairies freight transport manager Gary Webber said driver problems with Tranz Rail did not involve the Hawera-based company, even though it was a major transporter of product. "It is an issue for Tranz Rail. We are just like anyone that uses Tranz Rail, we are just a passenger and we'll leave it at that," he said.
Tranz Rail spokesperson Sue Foley said the company had made several changes since the accidents. They included employing more drivers, making sure they did not work more than 11 hours a day, and giving them adequate breaks. "We took these incidents incredibly seriously and we haven't had any incidents since," she said.
She said Tranz Rail came under much more intense scrutiny than the trucking industry, where drivers also worked long hours.
The last milk train derailment, near Maxwell, on January 17, was not investigated by the TAIC because it appeared it could offer no safety message......

©2004 Fairfax New Zealand

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'Taxi drivers take P to stay awake '

COMPLAINTS that taxi drivers are taking the drug P and staying awake for more than three days at a time have gone unheeded by industry regulator Land Transport New Zealand, Wellington cabbies claim.
Black and Gold Taxis owner Ian Gaskin said he made several complaints to Land Transport NZ about drivers taking methampehetamine drug but had been told there was nothing the regulator could do because the drug was undetectable after five to eight hours.

About six months ago he phoned Land Transport to report a driver who had admitted staying awake and on the road for three days. Though Land Transport "had a word with him" , the driver ignored it.
"The following day he wrote off a kid on his motorbike - this is four days after not having any sleep -the following day he crashed his car going down Thompson St, " Mr Gaskin said.
The driver disappeared out of the cab game because he went broke, Mr Gaskin said.

© 2005 The Dominion Post.

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' Sleepy driver pleads guilty to causing road deaths '

A Napier man who killed his wife and a young man after falling asleep at the wheel will live with his actions forever, a grieving family says.
Cedric John Edwards, a South African-born manager, was in Napier District Court yesterday for the first time.

With a sling over an injured arm, he pleaded guilty through his lawyer to seven charges relating to a July 17 car crash on the Hawke's Bay Expressway. The crash left two dead and six injured.
The 49-year-old has admitted driving carelessly causing the death of his wife Cheryl 43, and Hastings apprentice mechanic Stephen Temperton, 18. Both had been front-seat passengers.
Edwards also pleaded guilty to five counts of careless driving causing injury to his two daughters and to three others in the car Mr Temperton was in.
Edwards stood in the dock as Mr Temperton's family sat at the back of the court.
Two of the dead teen's injured friends also turned up - their injuries still evident by the back brace one wore and the crutches another needed to walk.
Edwards, who will be sentenced on October 12, crashed after an early morning flight to Palmerston North at the end of a family holiday in Brisbane.
According to police, the family touched down at the airport just after midnight. After clearing customs , Edwards began the 2 1/2 hour , 180 km drive home to Napier.
Near Dannevirke he was feeling a little tired but the feeling was short-lived and he continued driving.
At 3.15am his car crossed the centre line straight into the path of the oncoming Honda.
The court heard Edwards was remorseful for the crash, and had begun restorative justice.
Napier District Court judge Geoff Rea convicted Edwards on all seven charges, and remanded him at large for sentencing next month. After his appearance , Edwards was taken out of court through a back entrance. The grieving Temperton family embraced each other out the front.
Stephen's father Warren told The Dominion Post the guilty pleas were some "sort of closure" but it had been difficult seeing Edwards face-to-face.
I would rather not be there - it doesn' t bring Stephen back," Mr Temperton said.
"It doesn't get easier"
Mr Temperton said the family had no malice towards Edwards, who had his own "life sentence" to serve.
"He has to live with the death of his wife so he has been given a life sentence."
Mr Temperton said the decision to drive while tired had been "stupidity" that cost two lives.
"You can never stop stupidity"
Roy Temperton, Stephen's grandfather, said Edwards' actions were "thoughtless".
Stephen's family say he was a "typical teenager" who was into his second year as a motor mechanic apprentice. He wanted to work in the trade and travel overseas.
"He was fun-loving and full of life - just a joy to have around, " his mother Christine said.
Stephen's three friends who were injured would also suffer over a "lifetime" because of their injuries, Warren Temperton said.

© 2005 The Dominion Post, Fairfax New Zealand

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' Lucky escape for driver '

A 17-YEAR-OLD New Plymouth man had a lucky escape after falling asleep at the wheel and rolling his car north of Waitara yesterday.

. Constable Daniel White, of Waitara, said the teenager had been returning from Hamilton when the accident happened about 7am. The driver escaped without any injuries, while traffic slowed as emergency services cleaned up the mess......

© 2005 Independent Newspapers

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' Six died after driver fell asleep '

FIVE young people had been partying all night before their car crashed on the way
home killing them and the driver's infant son, a Ruatoria inquest was told.
Coroner Hugh Hughes ruled that high levels of cannabis and alcohol, driver fatigue,
combined with the driver's limited driving experience and the weather, contributed to the crash.

But the factor that led to the deaths was that none of the six was wearing restraints.
Makere Kuikui Reedy, 23, the driver, her son, Hamuera Braybrook-Reedy, 2, Tania Tanja Maraki- Reedy, 16, Toni Marteena Grace, 17, Heni Nohoaka Nihoniho Tuhura- Walsh, 16, and Hamuera Boyboy Reedy-Harrison, 22, all of Ruatoria, died instantly of massive injuries when the two-door Honda Integra hit a tree.
A friend testified they had all gone to an all-night birthday party in Te Puia Springs, 25 Kilometres south of Ruatoria.

Constable Peter Easton said the crashed car was discovered at 5.50am by a nearby resident. He estimated it had been travelling between 90 kmh and 110 kmh.
Pathology tests showed Miss Reedy was almost three times over the legal alcohol limit and had smoked the equivalent of one cannibis cigarette.
The absence of any signs of braking before the crash suggested that she had fallen asleep at the wheel.

© 2005 Gisborne Herald

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