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Median Barriers Could Have Prevented Five Highway Fatalities

A median barrier would probably have prevented Tuesday’s multiple fatalities in the Waikato, says the car review website dogandlemon.com.

Police have stated that one vehicle crossed the centre line of the road. Five people were killed in the resultant head-on collision.

Photo supplied

dogandlemon.com editor Clive Matthew-Wilson, who is an outspoken road safety campaigner, says:

“Five people are dead because a simple barrier was missing off that road. If the government is serious about lowering the road toll, the highest priority must be given to improving the safety of our Third World roads.”

“Multiple studies have shown that median barriers can prevent most head-on collisions. So why aren’t median barriers fitted on all our major highways?”

“The police don’t know why one vehicle crossed the centre line of the road. The driver may have been on drugs, or the driver may simply have fallen asleep.”

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“People make mistakes. Whether they survive these mistakes depends largely on the vehicle they’re driving and the road they’re driving down.”

“Studies show that we could actually reduce the road toll by 90% by doing nothing more than putting in roundabouts, median barriers and roadside fencing.”

Swedish traffic safety expert Lars Ekman has said that median barriers were a key factor in Sweden’s low road toll.

“In Sweden, median barriers are installed on 76% of roads with a speed limit above 80kmh.”

Matthew-Wilson points out that: “In New Zealand, in the last five years, just 142km of median barriers have been built. This is simply shameful.”

Matthew-Wilson adds that, while median barriers are expensive, they are actually cheap compared to the cost of building grand highways.

Ekman estimates that: “For 10% of the cost of a motorway you could make safe a stretch of road ten times as long.”

Matthew-Wilson is highly critical of the the government’s roading priorities.

"We don’t need a few grand highway schemes; we need to fix up the ordinary highways, so that simple mistakes don’t turn into multiple fatalities for ordinary people.”

Matthew-Wilson adds that issuing millions of speeding tickets did not prevent this accident.

“The police need to stop lecturing motorists and start pressuring the government to do what works. Multiple studies have shown that asking people to drive safely is an expensive waste of time. Also, multiple studies show that the highest risk offenders are effectively immune to road safety messages. These offenders also ignore the threat of fines and disqualifications

“To save lives, we have to do what works in the real world.”

“The Auckland harbour bridge used to have one serious or fatal crash a week. The police said 'drive safely’ and tried the usual enforcement campaigns, which made no difference. Eventually, a median barrier was installed on the harbour bridge; the serious crashes virtually stopped overnight and basically never came back.”

Matthew-Wilson describes many New Zealand roads as being like “a staircase without a handrail – you make the slightest mistake, you’re going to get hurt.”

© Scoop Media

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