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TRAFINZ calls for median barriers on killer roads

25 August 2004

TRAFINZ calls for median barriers on ‘killer roads’

State Highway operator Transit is being urged by TRAFINZ (the Local Authority Traffic Institute of New Zealand) to install median barriers on State Highway One between Pukerua Bay and Paekakariki where four people died last week in a head-on crash after their car crossed the centre line.

And there are a lot of other dangerous stretches of highway around the country – such as sections of highway in the Bay of Plenty and the Waikato - where barriers should also be installed as soon as possible, says TRAFINZ President Andy Foster.

“Most roading money is going into congestion relief – but we think more spending should go into saving lives. Barriers are a quick and effective way of achieving this.”

“We constantly see advertisements telling us that on most New Zealand roads, the only thing separating us from the car coming the other way is a strip of paint. A strip of paint isn’t enough here, or on many of our other roads. International best practice supports having median barriers to stop this kind of tragedy where a small error leads to a terrible outcome.

“TRAFINZ also supports Transit in reducing speed on this section of road. International best practice suggests that our standard roads, one lane in each direction, without a median barrier, are simply not adequate at 100 kph. Sure, most times we get safely to the end of our journey, but at that speed there is little time for correction if you, or another driver makes a mistake, and the penalty for mistakes can be tragically high. The reality is that most of our roads don’t come even close to international best practice as 100 kph roads.

“We know that lowering speed limits is not a popular move with everyone – but we’re not trying to win a popularity contest – we’re trying to save lives.

“Last year we killed 460 people on New Zealand roads, and hospitalised 8000. Our official national target is to cut that to 300 deaths and 4500 hospitalisations in 6 years’ time, and it is clear that even that will be difficult. They are all real people, with real families, and most of these tragedies are avoidable. It is essential that nobody treats these human statistics as inevitable, and that further initiatives are taken in engineering, enforcement and education. Reducing inappropriate speeds and installing safety barriers on inadequate roads are two important steps that should be taken.”

“Wire median barriers are a good, cost effective, safety mechanism, on existing roads where space is usually limited as is the case on SH1 where this tragedy occurred. They can be easily dismantled to allow emergency vehicle access, or to get other vehicles out of the way, and should be supported by more frequent passing lanes, the so called 2+1 roads.”

ENDS

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