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Super-charge Road Safety And Maintenance Investment Now: AA

The AA is calling on the Government to super-charge investment in key areas of road safety and for road maintenance in order to help stimulate the economy in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic.

The call comes in direct response to a request by the Government’s new Infrastructure Industry Reference Group for the sector to identify ‘shovel-ready’ infrastructure projects.

“The recovery from this crisis will give us the chance to take a big step forward in the safety and quality of our roads,” says AA Principal Advisor for Infrastructure Barney Irvine.

“Road safety and road maintenance are two areas that are vitally important to the public, and where in recent years we haven’t seen nearly enough action from the Government, despite big promises.”

“We cannot afford to miss the opportunity to super-charge the funding for transport projects that really matter to everyday Kiwis and will deliver the Government’s transport objectives.”

In road safety, the AA recommends five separate initiatives:

1. Electronic speed signs outside all New Zealand schools

2. Adding 200km of median barriers on state highways every year for five years

3. Upgrading highways that have a two-star safety standard to at least three-star rating

4. Engineering work to support safer speeds

5. Installing at least 20 new red light cameras in main centres (outside Auckland)

In road maintenance, the AA wants to see a nation-wide programme that results in 15% of the network’s road surfaces being renewed or rehabilitated each year.

Barney says that road maintenance has been badly neglected over the last decade, affecting roads across the whole of New Zealand.

“Basically, we’ve had a big increase in the length of the road network, and more people are doing more driving, which means a big increase in wear and tear. But, at the same time, spending has flat-lined.

“That can only mean one thing: the condition of our roads is getting worse. Our surveys show that this is the highest-ranking concern among AA Members nationally – with nearly 70% identifying it as a problem – and the frustration has grown with every year that passes.”

First and foremost, maintenance is a safety issue, Barney says.

“Poor-quality road surfaces reduce the grip a vehicle has with the road and leads to higher crash rates – that includes crashes where vehicles cross the centre line or run off the road, which is where the greatest harm is caused.

“The fact that our national safety programmes don’t appear to fully recognise this is really frustrating and worrying.”

Meanwhile, in response to the Reference Group’s desire to make sure regional projects are given adequate attention, the AA has sought feedback from membership around the country about local priority projects.

“We’ve put together a list of transport projects from all parts of the country that could be added to the Government’s list – we look forward to sharing these with the Reference Group and talking about how they might be moved forward.”

© Scoop Media

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