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New risk-ratings for roads reflect safety improvements

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National map – collective risk

22 November 2012

New risk-ratings for roads reflect safety improvements on Waikato and Bay of Plenty state highways

Regional results in the updated KiwiRAP New Zealand road risk-ratings launched nationally today show road safety has improved significantly on a number of Waikato and Bay of Plenty state highways. The new figures cover Waikato and Bay of Plenty’s combined rural state highway network of approximately 2,442 kilometres.

NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) Waikato and Bay of Plenty Regional Director, Harry Wilson, says overall, the results are encouraging, particularly given the high traffic volumes on state highways throughout the Waikato and Bay of Plenty.

The number of fatal and serious injury crashes on the Waikato/Bay of Plenty rural state highways (as defined within the KiwiRAP corridors assessed) has decreased from 1156 in 2002-2006 to 1042 in 2007-2011 (down 10 per cent).
“In the five years from 2002-2006, there were 787 km of state highway rated as High or Medium-High Risk in the Waikato and Bay of Plenty regions. From 2007-2011, this reduced to 634 km – a reduction of 153 km for these categories. This reflects our targeted approach to making safety improvements where we can save the most lives and prevent the most serious injuries.”

The new risk-ratings compare 2007-2011 crash rates with those from the previous five years (2002-2006). KiwiRAP is an internationally recognised road assessment programme that identifies state highways where crash risks are highest, so that safety improvements can be better targeted. KiwiRAP is a partnership between the NZ Transport Agency (NZTA), the NZ Automobile Association (AA), Ministry of Transport (MOT), Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) and NZ Police.

The KiwiRAP ratings cover High, Medium-High, Medium, Low-Medium and Low risk bands measured for two key categories:

Collective Risk ratings are based on the total number of fatal and serious injury crashes over a section of road, otherwise known as ‘crash-density’.
Personal Risk ratings are based on the total number of fatal and serious injury crashes per kilometre driven over a section of road. They measure the ‘relative risk’ to an individual driver of being involved in a crash.

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National map – personal risk

Collective Risk ratings generally reflect roads with higher numbers of vehicles and larger crash numbers and this is why many of our safety improvement projects are focused on these high risk corridors. Those highways in the Waikato and Bay of Plenty region that have persistently high collective risk factors often traverse some challenging terrain. At times they are also more vulnerable to natural events such as slips and flooding. Because of these factors, these highways are going to have a higher risk attached to them than most. However, a considerable investment have been made in the last 5-10 years to reduce this risk by targeting safety improvement work at crash black spot on these roads.

Personal Risk is generally higher on roads with low volumes, as even a low number of isolated crashes can result in a high personal risk. Similarly, on some persistently high risk roads there has been a reduction in crash numbers, but not enough to move its rating to a lower rated band.

“KiwiRAP is a powerful tool for increasing public awareness and recognition that not all roads are the same. This can help drivers and riders to know where they need to take more care in some areas and to remember to always drive to the conditions,” says Mr Wilson.

The Government’s Safer Journeys Strategy has adopted the ‘Safe System’ Approach. We expect drivers to be skilled, alert and compliant; however, people will make mistakes and shouldn’t have to die or be seriously injured as a result. The focus is on creating safe speeds, safe vehicles and safe road use. The ‘Safe System’ approach’s other focus is on safe roads and roadsides. This links to the NZTA’s ongoing assessment of the road network and our safety improvement work, which help us to reduce the opportunities for these errors to happen. Where crashes do occur, this work also aims to minimise the impact on those involved.”

Mr Wilson adds the NZTA and its road safety partners also put a significant effort into coordinating on safety campaigns. “These cover all aspects of the Safe System approach including working with Police on targeted high risk road users (e.g. young drivers, drink drivers and speeding). The ‘Reduce the Risk’ initiative is another example of a regional effort with key partners aimed at educating Waikato road users about road safety.”

Mr Wilson said while good progress had been made in improving the region’s High Risk roads, there is still more work to do. “There are safety improvement projects already underway in both the Waikato and the Bay of Plenty, with more planned in the next three years. We are expecting that these, along with the completion of the Tauranga Eastern Link and further sections of the Waikato Expressway, will see enhanced safety benefits in the Waikato and Bay of Plenty when the KiwiRAP risk ratings are released in 2017.”

For more information and to download a regional highlights document see www.kiwirap.org.nz

For more information about the Safe System approach to road safety see http://www.nzta.govt.nz/network/operating/safely/safer-roads/index.html



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