March 28, 2011

NEW ZEALAND: Morning call nearly costs life

TARANAKI / Stratford Press / News / March 28, 2011

Inglewood man's bad habit saves life

Staff reporter

A man's life-long bad habit could have saved him when his car skidded down a steep bank after he pulled over for a comfort stop in Taranaki.

The 47-year-old Inglewood man stopped to relieve himself and stretch his legs near the Mt Messenger tunnel and had just started driving off when he felt his ute starting to slide down a bank.

"All of a sudden he's sliding and he's got no steering and it's heading towards the bank,'' said Constable Darren Hayes, of Inglewood police. The man was not wearing a seatbelt so was able to get out of the car before it plunged down the bank and sustained major damage.

"He said the habit of his life, which his young daughter has been trying to correct for years, is that he starts the vehicle, starts driving off, then puts his seatbelt on.

"In this case, he'd started driving off, hadn't put his seatbelt on and when it came to thinking, '...I'm in trouble here' he threw the door open and managed to get out fast.''

Mr Hayes said the area had been drenched with torrential rain on Friday night so the grass was extremely slippery and soft, which is why his car lost all traction.

There was no cellphone coverage in the area so the man had to walk for several kilometres to contact his wife, who picked him up.

Mr Hayes said the incident was not an advertisement for not wearing your seatbelt before starting your car.

© APN News & Media Ltd 2011.