Risks of sleeping rough

Spring has sprung and it’s been great to see the sunshine again.

Not everyone has had a warm house in which to sleep during winter however. Of late, I have had a few discussions around rough sleepers in Waipa.

If you become aware of someone sleeping rough in a public area, please let Waipa District Council know. Rough sleeping presents a risk to the person involved and the community. From the person’s perspective there are often issues including around their financial and employment situation, addictions and mental health.

Rough sleeping environments are usually unsanitary and can pose a health issue to the individual as well as a general environmental and fire risk. The more information the council gets, the sooner appropriate interventions and supports can be put in place. You can message the council via their Facebook page or phone 0800 924 723 or email [email protected] . Provide information about the location and setup and details of the individual living there if known. As always, safety first however. Don’t approach the person directly if there is any risk.

Recently, colleagues and I attended a vehicle crash on Tirau Road (State Highway 1) at the intersection with Lockley Road. It involved two heavy vehicles. That section of road has a speed limit of 100km/hr and required a single lane road closure. The Northbound exit from the expressway was blocked off by highway patrol.  The scene was marked by road cones, Police vehicles with flashing red and blue lights and Police staff with high vis vests. There was also a crash warning sign, reminding motorists of the 20 km/hr speed limit that applies through such a scene.  The reduction in speed is for several reasons – debris on the road, road blockages from the involved vehicles as well as the safety of all responding emergency services personnel.  Despite all of these indications, we had several vehicles who failed to slow down to anywhere near the limit, including some that slowed by the first officer, then accelerated through the scene itself.   You can imagine our consternation when we even had three cars actually travel around the Police car that was blocking off the Expressway exit.

Of all the situations where this driving behaviour is risky, a crash scene is one of the worst. Please, slow down at crash scenes and be patient. Don’t be an egg, let’s keep everyone safe.

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