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Associate Transport Minister Julie Anne Genter promises greater focus on road safety

Associate Transport Minister Julie Anne Genter says more funding could be made available for road safety projects under ...DEAN KOZANIC/STUFF

Associate Transport Minister Julie Anne Genter says more funding could be made available for road safety projects under the new Government.

Associate Transport Minister Julie Anne Genter has promised action on the state of New Zealand’s roads, saying more money needs to go into safety improvements as the road toll continues to soar.

Genter’s comments came in response to a call from the Traffic Institute of New Zealand (Trafinz) for annual Government funding to be allocated to road safety engineering projects, in the same way it is for road safety enforcement and education.

Trafinz president Andy Foster wants up to £200 million spent annually on installing median barriers and roundabouts at accident black spots, which he says have been proven to reduce fatalities.

Traffic Institute of New Zealand president Andy Foster says more money needs to be spent on road safety projects, and ...ROSS GIBLIN/STUFF

Traffic Institute of New Zealand president Andy Foster says more money needs to be spent on road safety projects, and less on building large roads.

There have been 318 deaths on New Zealand’s roads so far this year, 51 more than at the same time last year.

READ MORE:
* AA calls for upgrade of country’s most dangerous roads
* New Zealand’s road toll worst in years
* Another day of fatal car crashes on NZ roads[1][2][3]

Genter said transport safety needed to be given greater attention by the Government, and did not rule out increasing the pot for engineering projects.

Emergency services vehicles line the road at the scene of a crash that killed three people near Whangarei, in Northland, ...ANNETTE LAMBLY/STUFF

Emergency services vehicles line the road at the scene of a crash that killed three people near Whangarei, in Northland, on Wednesday.

“Certainly, transport safety needs to be a higher priority for the Government policy statement on funding,” she said.

“The minister [Transport Minister Phil Twyford] and I will be working closely on options to improve transport safety.

“It will be a high priority for me as associate minister of transport.”

Fire service and police at the scene of a car accident in Otara in October, where the car is wrapped around a tree on ...ABIGAILDOUGHERTY/STUFF

Fire service and police at the scene of a car accident in Otara in October, where the car is wrapped around a tree on someone’s lawn.

The specific issue of allocating dedicated funding for safety projects from the national land transport fund had not been discussed, but the idea was “on the table”, Genter said.

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“I’m very interested to hear [Foster’s] recommendations and we will be talking about that. “I can’t commit to it but I certainly haven’t ruled it out.” Foster said the installation of median barriers and roundabouts had been proven around the world to reduce fatalities.

New Zealand examples included the Centennial Highway north of Wellington, where seven fatal crashes occurred in the 12 months before a median barrier was constructed in 2007, while none had occurred since. A roundabout at the intersection of state highways 3 and 37 in Waitomo, where several deaths had occurred, had also been an effective safety measure, Foster said. Roads that were in urgent need of improvements included the Foxton Straight, between Sanson and Foxton; State Highway 58 between the Hutt Valley and Porirua; several 100kmh zones in Wairarapa; and State Highway 2 in Maramarua, Waikato.

Roundabouts were needed to slow traffic down where main roads connected with side roads, Foster said. “Coming into 100kmh traffic, you have to make judgment calls, and people make mistakes.”

A lot of work had been done to identify problem areas, and it was time to make the necessary improvements, he said.

“We should spend a little bit less on building large roads of national significance, and invest £100m a year, £200m a year for road safety engineering.

“There is 90,000 kilometres of road network, so it’s going to take time.”

State highways and local roads should be treated equally when it came to funding, he said.

In some areas, “fragile” ratepayer bases meant roading investments were deemed too expensive, even if a 50 per cent Government contribution was available.

A recent Automobile Association report showed 59 of 100 fatal crashes studied from 2015 and 2016 involved cars crossing the centre line on a 100kmh road, while 55 involved a car hitting roadside trees, power poles or banks.

More than 50 per cent of fatal and serious injury crashes occurred on a road with a shoulder narrower than 20 centimetres.

– Stuff

References

  1. ^ AA calls for upgrade of country’s most dangerous roads (www.stuff.co.nz)
  2. ^ New Zealand’s road toll worst in years (www.stuff.co.nz)
  3. ^ Another day of fatal car crashes on NZ roads (www.stuff.co.nz)
  4. ^ Ad Feedback (stuff.co.nz)



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