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Surface Friction Is All About Safety

2 May 2005

Surface Friction is all about safety

Transit New Zealand is hailing the inaugural Surface Friction - Roads and Runways Conference, as the most exciting safety engineering event this year. Transit Network Operations Manager Dave Bates says the conference, which opens today, is all about safety and improving roads and runways.

"Changes we've made over the last 10 years to improve skid resistance on highways have meant a 30 percent reduction in wet road crashes.

"Surface Friction is a specialised area, but in fact it's something that is dear to the heart of everyone driving a car or landing in a plane because it's about braking and acceleration - in other words it's about safety. Across the developed world 40% of road accidents occur when the road is wet, yet many of these accidents could be avoided if suitable surfaces were laid.

"We called this conference in partnership with WDM, the British engineering company whose machinery we use. Most people in New Zealand will be familiar with WDM's yellow fire engine-sized SCRIM truck, that we use to measure the surface of all our highways every year to pinpoint areas for improvement," Mr Bates said.

"At this conference there are professional engineers, lawyers, scientists, experts and technicians here from 13 different countries to look at runways and road safety. One of the reasons these experts are coming here is that New Zealand has a great reputation for this kind of safety work.

"As well as hearing from the experts we are also conducting correlation trials on roads here in Canterbury. We'll be testing and comparing the accuracy of a number of machines and to find which collection of data will give us the information most suited to local conditions.

Mr Bates said conference delegates include experts from all over the world, including Thomas Yager from NASA in the USA, one of the experts assigned to next month's space shuttle landing. Key note addresses will also be give by Dr Robin Dunlop, Secretary for Transport; British scientist Peter Roe; WDM director Dr Chris Kennedy; and Hon Bill Jeffries Chief Commissioner of the Transport Accident Investigation Association, former head of Civil Aviation Authority and Minister of Transport, who will open the conference.


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