$1.4 billion to save lives on our roads

Transport Minister Phil Twyford and Associate Transport Minister Julie Anne Genter today announced a $1.4 billion, three-year programme to make New Zealand’s highest risk roads safer.

The Safe Network Programme will make 870 kilometres of high volume, high-risk State Highways safer by 2021 with improvements like median and side barriers, rumble strips, and shoulder widening.

The programme will target an estimated $600 to $700 million of state highway safety improvements and $700 to 800 million of local road safety improvements. Once complete, the improvements are expected to prevent 160 deaths and serious injuries every year.

Phil Twyford said the Safe Network Programme will build urgent safety improvements on our roads at scale and pace over the next three years to save lives.

“Drivers will inevitably make mistakes and it’s the government’s job is to stop those mistakes turning into tragedies.

“This year, far too many New Zealanders have lost their lives or been seriously injured in crashes that could have been prevented by road safety upgrades,” Phil Twyford said.

Julie Anne Genter said, “our Government believes it is unacceptable for anyone to be killed or seriously injured on our roads.”

“Annual road deaths in New Zealand increased from 253 just a few years ago in 2013, to 378 last year. The number of serious injuries increased from 2,020 to 2,836 per year over the same period.

“No other industry accepts hundreds of people dying each year as normal. No person I know thinks losing a loved one in a crash is an acceptable price to pay for living in a modern society – that’s why we’re making safety a priority.

“Local councils will be offered a higher level of central government funding to fix high-risk, local and regional roads. Over half of all fatal crashes happen on local roads and we recognise central government funding will help make these roads safer sooner,” Julie Anne Genter said.

A programme of local road safety projects is already under development with the first projects expected to begin next year.

The NZ Transport Agency will also speed up the time it takes to deliver safety projects by fast-tracking the approval process for standard, proven safety improvements. Applying the new fast-track process on projects like the State Highway 1 Dome Valley upgrade would have shaved nine months off the project timeframe.

“Regions with the highest rates of deaths and serious injuries - Waikato, Auckland and Canterbury - will be prioritised in the first year of the programme. It will then be rolled out to other regions including the Bay of Plenty.

“The programme will also deliver a nationwide advertising campaign to help raise awareness and conversation about why we must change some of our riskiest roads to prevent more road trauma,” Julie Anne Genter said.

More information about the Safe Network Programme, including a map, can be found at: www.nzta.govt.nz/safe-network-programme

Further State highway projects are being investigated and will be considered for funding within the Safe Network Programme.

Local road projects are currently being identified in partnership with local government for inclusion in the Safe Network Programme. These projects are expected to be identified in early 2019 and to begin construction in late 2019.

The Safe Network Programme is just one part of the Transport Agency’s safety programme. The Transport Agency continues to invest in a wide range of programmes delivered across the safety spectrum including road safety maintenance, advertising and education, road policing, active modes and public transport, all of which support improved safety outcomes.

Safety improvements in Safe Network Programme will include:

  • fixing dangerous corners
  • installing roadside and median safety barriers
  • shoulder widening
  • further safety improvements for high risk intersections
  • rumble strips
  • improving skid resistance
  • improving rail level crossing safety
  • setting safe and appropriate speed limits.