Charge Follows Fatal Petone Road Crash

Police Wellington News Release


9:29am 9 December 2008


A 45-year-old truck driver will face a charge of careless driving causing death and has been summonsed to appear in the Lower Hutt District Court on 20 January 2009.

Inspector Richard Chambers, Lower Hutt Police Area Commander, said the information has been laid following the completion of the fatal Petone crash investigation.

The crash happened on 19 June on The Esplanade, Petone, and claimed the life of Superintendent Steve Fitzgerald, the national manager of the Police Communications Centres, who had been cycling home from work.

Inspector Chambers said Mr Fitzgerald's family has been advised of the prosecution decision. 

As the case is now before the court, police will not be making further comment.


I had a call from Newstalk ZB asking for comment from cyclists.

Here's the points I made:
The distressing deaths of these two cyclists have highlighted the need for New Zealand's roads to be made safer for people already cycling or wanting to take it up.

CAN, the Cycling Advocates Network, launched a 9 point plan for cycle safety. 4000 people signed CAN's petition.

It starts with a call for national and local government to run a national Share the Road promotional campaign telling motorists and cyclists how to co-exist safely on the roads.

We also want the govt to change the driver licensing system and driver instruction (including bus and truck drivers) so motorists are educated about how to take care around cyclists.

And promote the use of lower speed zones (particularly 30km/h).

I also covered the 4 Es of traffic safety:
and said that cycling is relatively safe. Ministry of Transport figures show that about 1 in 1,000 cyclists are in injury crashes every year, compared with about 3 in 1,000 car drivers.
Since 2000 about 10 cyclists are killed on average on the road each year, which is about 3% of the total.
And something on safety in numbers, cycle training and the need for cyclists to ride responsibly.
And of course no comment on the specifics of the cases before the courts.

The truck driver has now been sentenced:

He got disqualified from driving for 9 months, and a $2000 fine.

"The court heard that Wilson has recently been diagnosed with depression, has resigned his employment, is on a sickness benefit and has moved to be with his family in Nelson."

ON Sunday, I unexpectedly had to ride from Lower Hutt to Wellington (rail track maintenance meant the trais weren't running on that section). I didn't know exactly where this crash happened. but was aware I was cycling through the Petone interchange and that I was passing over or near the site.

I don't know the exact details, but its this one case that could have been prevented or at least mitigated, if the truck had side barriers to prevent cyclists and vehicles going under the side of the truck?

Stephen Wood , based in Central Otago