Association Supports Road Safety Inquiry
NZ-BITUMEN-CONTRACTORS ASSOCIATION SUPPORTS TRANSPORT MINISTERS' INQUIRY ON ROAD SAFETY
"Transport Minister Mark Gosche's call for a select committee inquiry into road safety should also include road layout and construction standards because they can (and should) be improved to further reduce the road toll", Dr Bryan Pidwerbesky, Chief Executive of the NZ Bitumen Contractors Association said.
"Roading contractors are often frustrated by road authorities specifying rehabilitation or resealing work on a section of road that is obviously unsafe, while safety could be improved at the same time for very small extra cost, but the safety improvements are not included in the work."
For example, a tortuous winding section of road with sharp curves, unsafe alignment or poor sight distance (for drivers overtaking) may be resurfaced without sufficient attention given to improving the road alignment or layout for safer driving. The marginal cost of doing the extra safety improvement work at the same time should be investigated.
"Recently, visiting roading experts from Australia and Canada have praised NZ for its road management initiatives and road construction technology, but also commented that highway alignment and geometrics in New Zealand could be improved, to provide safer roads for the users", said Dr Pidwerbesky.
Additional savings for road users (and the national economy) would include lower fuel consumption, less wear and tear on vehicles (especially tyres, suspensions and windscreens), less traffic delay because less maintenance is required, less discomfort and reduced emissions.
The contractors association also supports the Labour government's pledge to review the roading benefit/cost formula.
New Zealand rations the limited funds available for roads among all road projects by funding only those projects that have a benefit - cost ratio of at least 4. In other words, we only invest in road projects that provide benefits that are at least 4 times the costs. In addition, the economic analysis of roading projects discounts the future value of benefits (such as road user vehicle operation costs and accidents) using a high rate of 10%,while other Western countries such as Australia, Canada and the USA use more reasonable rates of 4% to 8%. A Benefit/Cost ratio cut off of 4 combined with a discount rate of 10% is equivalent to an extremely high annual compound rate of return on an investment, in the 40% to 65% range!
"The nation could be investing more in roads, including safety improvements, that could return New Zealanders at least 40% per year on invested capital".