Ambitious road safety campaign rolling out

A road safety programme is being rolled out by Auckland Transport, with a budget of $700 million and a target of reducing deaths and serious injuries on Auckland roads by 60 percent, over a 10-year period.

Funding is coming from Government, Auckland Council and drivers (proceeds from the regional fuel tax). A total of $210 million for the programme comes from the regional fuel tax. The investment is more than three times what Auckland Transport (AT) normally commits to road safety, which is around $15m-$20m per annum compared to around $70m on average per annum in the current budget.

Auckland Transport (AT) network management and safety group manager, Randhir Karma, told the Hibiscus & Bays Local Board at last month’s meeting that with deaths and serious injuries having increased by 67 percent from 2013 to 2017, reducing those numbers is “a massive challenge”.

Figures for the Hibiscus & Bays area show that road safety performance has worsened here, with deaths and serious injuries up 29 percent (2013-17). Locally, 48 percent of those people were “vulnerable road users”, such as cyclists, motorbike riders and pedestrians.

Mr Karma says the initial target, for the first three years of the programme, is to reduce deaths and serious injuries on our roads by 18 percent. The focus locally will be on safety on roads and at intersections, speed management, vulnerable road user safety, sober driving and distracted driving behaviours. These are to be addressed through investment in safety engineering, speed management, education and training and enforcement (with Police).

“The aim is to create a safe system,” Mr Karma told the local board. “People do make mistakes, but they should not have to lose life or limb when they do.”

Local safety engineering projects to be delivered (2018-19) include zebra crossings in Centreway Road in Orewa and Waiora Road, Stanmore Bay, as well as speed cushions on Laurence Street in Manly.
Mr Karma’s report states that the highest risk intersection on the Hibiscus Coast is at Tavern Rd/East Coast Rd in Silverdale. AT is working with a local developer to have traffic lights installed there this financial year.

Mr Karma says that the Silverdale St/Hibiscus Coast Highway/Tavern Road intersection, which has been the site of several accidents and was ranked 16 on the NZ Transport Agency’s list of high-risk intersections in 2014, dropped in the rankings to number 60 in 2016.

Speed reduction measures are seen as the quickest and most cost effective way to reduce the number of deaths and serious injuries, and AT is currently identifying areas and roads where speeds could be lowered. Mr Karma says this will be generally on high speed, high crash routes; areas with high levels of pedestrians or cyclists, and residential areas.

The report notes that speeds of 30kph are safer for vulnerable road users than anything over 50kph.
It also highlighted that reducing speed limits is “a sensitive topic”, and will require a publicity campaign, followed by consultation on a speed limit bylaw.

“The campaign will aim to educate Aucklanders that lower speeds provide survivable crash outcomes, as well as enabling our kids to walk and cycle to school, a more liveable streets environment and many health and environmental benefits,” the report says.

The public will be consulted on the bylaw, and once it’s approved by AT’s board, the new speed limits will become legally enforceable.

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