Elderly Hawke's Bay man blacks out at wheel, drives 12m down highway barrier

An elderly Hawke's Bay man miraculously survived falling asleep while driving his car on Thursday morning before driving into a highway barrier for 12 metres. 

The unnamed man, 71, blacked out at the wheel while driving north near the Links Rd roundabout on the Hawke's Bay Expressway, police confirmed on Thursday. 

After driving into the highway barrier for approximately 12 metres, the man's car came to a stop. 

Road policing specialist Senior Sergeant Dan Foley says he's relieved the barrier did its job and the man came to no further harm. 

Police were called to the crash at around 11am to find the vehicle "extensively damaged". The driver was then taken to Hawke's Bay Hospital with minor injuries. 

"Witnesses told police that if [the driver] hadn't driven into the barrier, he would have driven straight into a truck coming in the opposite direction," said Mr Foley. 

"The driver has said he's extremely grateful for the barrier. He says it saved his life."

The 70-year-old now plans to buy a Lotto ticket in light of his miraculous luck. 

The highway barriers had only recently been installed down the median strip of the expressway between Napier and Hastings, according to police.