Reduction in highway crashes

The data based road safety management programme KiwiRAP established in 2006 is working and saving lives on New Zealand roads say officials.

Representatives from the road safety partnership gathered at the TEL site office in Papamoa today to release the second round of risk maps that rates the country’s highways according to collective and personal risk.

They show actions taken since the first maps were produced in 2008 have made the highways measurably safer.

Fatal and serious accidents on the high collective risk roads have reduced by 30 per cent, and by 15 per cent on the network overall.

“It is great to see that the latest KiwiRAP results show a drop of more than 15 per cent in fatal and serious injury crashes on state highways,” says Associate Transport Minister and Tauranga MP Simon Bridges. 

 “KiwiRAP is proving to be a very effective tool to help identify the level of risk on these roads so that engineering, investment and enforcement efforts can be better targeted to the risk each road poses.”

KiwiRAP is a partnership between the NZ Transport Agency, the Automobile Association, the Ministry of Transport, the Police and the ACC in producing the risk maps.

“This collaboration is a great example of what can be achieved by working together.  While continuing to improve road safety is on-going, KiwiRAP is already being put to great use to creating safer journeys for all New Zealanders,” says Simon.

While based on an international model, the Kiwi Road Assessment Programme is the first to have participation from the road network operator.

It uses historical traffic and crash data to produce colour coded maps showing the relative level of collective and personal risk on sections of the state highway network.

It shows State Highway 2 from Te Maunga to Paengaroa has a high level of collective risk, as does State Highway 2 from Tauranga to Katikati, and SH29 over the Kaimais.

But on a personal risk level SH2 from Te Maunga to Paengaroa is low risk.

State Highway 2 from Tauranga to Katikati is low to medium personal risk and SH29 over the Kaimais is medium personal risk.

Collective risk is the crash density, based on the number of fatal and serious injury crashes over a section of road. It is typically highest on high volume roads.

On average the actual crash rates and personal risk in terms of vehicle kilometres travelled across regions like the Waikato and Bay of Plenty are often lower than other lower trafficked regions, but the sheer volume of traffic generates higher crash numbers.

Personal risk is generally higher on roads with low volumes as even a low number of isolated crashes can result in a high personal risk, similarly on some persistently high risk roads there has been a reduction in crash numbers, but not enough to lower the rating band.

The four year up-date on the data shows which roads are getting safer.

The evidence based approach means that for the first time performance tracking can be done based on collective risk and personal risk, says AA motoring affairs general manager Mike Noon.

“The high crash rates have come down,” says Mike

“They are not numbers they are people; families, mums, dads and kids. They are alive because we have improved the road. That’s why we are doing this.

“They have no idea that they are alive because we have improved the road.”

It has been achieved through things like the lane separation on the coastal highway out of Wellington.

The barrier has been hit 81 times since it was installed preventing cars from crossing the centre line into opposing traffic. It’s a busy section of road SH1 where there is always something coming the other way, says Mike.

Other work that appears to help bring down crash rates includes the rumble strips now bordering many highways.

Regional Waikato/BOP director for the New Zealand Transport Agency Harry Wilson says fatal and serious crashes across the region have dropped by 114 in the four years - a reduction of 10 per cent.

While good progress has been made in improving the regions high risk roads, there is still more work to do.

“There are safety improvement projects already underway in both the Waikato and the Bay of aplenty with more planned in the next three years,” says Harry.

“We are expecting that these, along with the completion of the Tauranga Eastern Link and further sections of the Waikato Expressway will see enhanced safety benefits in the Waikato and BOP when the KiwiRAP ratings are released in 2017.”

The Tauranga Eastern Link is a Road of National significance which will have a four stare safety rating and will bypass the present sections of two and three star road that have high traffic volumes and a high crash risk.


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