Timaru District Council to consider road safety funding increases

A report by Timaru District Council land transport manager Andrew Dixon says that over the past six years there has been an "unprecedented rise in road casualties at a faster rate than the rate of traffic growth".

ALDEN WILLIAMS/STUFF A report by Timaru District Council land transport manager Andrew Dixon says that over the past six years there has been an “unprecedented rise in road casualties at a faster rate than the rate of traffic growth”.

A major increase in council funding for road safety in the district could be on the table next year, as the Timaru District Council attempts to address an “unacceptable” road fatality rate. 

Council land transport manager Andrew Dixon’s report to the infrastructure committee on Tuesday said that over the past six years there has been an “unprecedented rise in road casualties at a faster rate than the rate of traffic growth” and asks for the employment of an extra road safety officer, as “further resources would allow more education and focus on a greater number of road safety initiatives particularly in transport modes like scooters and mobility scooters”. 

Dixon, South Canterbury Road Safety’s Daniel Naude and Jane Sullivan, and Senior Sergeant Dylan Murray, of Timaru, made an appearance at the meeting where they fielded questions in relation to the report.

South Canterbury road safety co-ordinator Daniel Naude says he is pleased the council is getting the message on road safety. (File)

Mytchall Bransgrove South Canterbury road safety co-ordinator Daniel Naude says he is pleased the council is getting the message on road safety. (File)

“The next Long Term Plan will provide an opportunity to “raise the bar” with road safety and allow the conversation to be had with our community,” the report says.

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The report acknowledges the council has set aside £800,000 per year to increase engineering improvements to intersections and roads where evidence indicates there are safety risks.

However, in order to deliver “priority improvements in a shorter timeframe,” funding would need to increase in the 2020/21 Annual Plan budgets and next Long Term Plan to a recommended £1.3 million per year, it says.

Dixon’s report says “the success of achieving the target reduction in fatalities and serious injuries on our roads requires a multi-agency approach between councils, NZ Transport Agency, police and communities”.

“The NZTA through the safer networks programme (SNP) has reviewed our road network and identified a number of risks and improvements,” the report says.

“SNP and local safety improvement projects identified in Timaru District include Winchester-Geraldine/Coach/Tiplady roads intersection, Wai-iti/Wilson/Selwyn streets intersection, Levels Plain/Falvey/Foley roads intersection, Earl Rd, Arowhenua Rd, road crossing improvements around schools and pedestrian crossing improvements in Selwyn and Wai-iti roads.

There is an expectation that most of these recommended road infrastructure improvements will be completed.”

There is one full-time equivalent road safety co-ordinator (Naude), and another part-time co-ordinator who is focused on school travel planning (Sullivan).

Naude told councillors that research showed reckless behaviour was a factor in 49 per cent of fatal crashes and for system failure it was 51 per cent.

For serious injury crashes, the split was 29 per cent reckless behaviour and 71 per cent system failure.

“There’s a lot of things we need to teach,” Naude said.

Councillors agreed to put forward the recommendations to next year’s Long Term Plan.

It also asked Dixon and his staff to create a safety plan for Marine Pde, after concerns from the public about the area – in particular the safety of the little blue penguins there. 

Timaru District mayor Nigel Bowen said the council supported the Government’s road safety initiatives, but he would like the council to be “proactive” and not “wait for the Government to set the rules”.

After the meeting, Naude said he was pleased with the council’s response.

“They realise the importance of the situation and are on board with improving it,” he said.

Stuff

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