As Death Toll Rises, New Zealand to Invest in Road Safety Upgrades

New Zealand’s roads have become more dangerous in 2017 with approximately one fatality each day, compared to 327 in 2016. As of Dec. 17, a total of 359 road-related deaths have taken place, according to data from the Ministry of Transport and New Zealand Transport Authority (NZTA).

The figure may still increase before the end of the year.

Road Safety Projects

Julie Anne Genter, Associate Transport Minister, said that the government intends to resolve the high number of road fatalities with a $22.5 million programme. Since the holiday season can make roads extra busier, the short-term budget will tackle safety upgrades on regional highways.

The enhancements will particular cover high-risk areas in 30 rural state roads Northland, Taranaki, Manawatū-Whanganui, Canterbury, Otago and Southland. It will include signage, safety barriers and rumble strips, among other traffic safety products.

Planning work has begun, although the development projects will break ground in February 2018, according to Genter.

Controlling Speeds

While investments in better roads improve safety, the government and NZTA will attempt to overhaul traffic speed regulations for the “right speed; the safe speed, for the conditions,” Genter said.

Local councils will need to participate in the programme, which aims to set clear guidelines on speed limits on high-risk road sections. Aside from motorists, highway construction companies need to have a stringent policy on safety for its workers.

In Canterbury, for instance, former Labour Minister Kate Wilkinson said in 2012 that an estimated 50 people might die on work sites by 2018. This could happen if the construction industry’s injury rate back then would continue in the coming year.

Conclusion

The public and private sector should work together to uphold road safety on New Zealand roads. Motorists need to be responsible drivers, while construction companies and the government need to invest more in traffic safety products and upgrades.