Associate Transport Minister Julie Anne Genter today announced a short-term boost in road safety funding this summer and signalled a renewed focus from the Government on introducing safer speed limits.
Over summer the NZ Transport Agency will roll out an additional $22.5 million worth of low-cost safety improvements on rural state highways across Northland, Taranaki, Manawatu-Wanganui, Canterbury, Otago and Southland. The funding has been reallocated from within the state highways budget.
“The number of people losing their lives on our roads has increased every year for the past five years. When things are this bad government has a responsibility to act,” says Genter.
“The Boost Safety Programme is the first step. Improvements will include rumble strips, signage and safety barriers on rural roads where there is a real risk of death and serious injuries.
“Many deaths and injuries can be avoided on these roads by making some relatively simple changes. For example, we know rumble strips can reduce all crashes by around 25 percent and fatal run-off-road crashes by up to 42 percent.
Genter says despite what many people think, improving road safety is not just about getting people to drive better, it is also about making roads safer so when people make mistakes, lives are not lost.
“On too many of our roads a simple error, such as taking a corner too fast or being momentarily distracted, can be fatal. That is why the government will be investing more in safety barriers, rumble strips and targeted speed limit changes. Next year, the Government will further increase funding for road safety improvements as we revise the overall transport budget.”
Genter says she has also written to the NZTA board and all local councils to stress that setting more appropriate speed limits on high-risk stretches of road will be a priority for this government.
“The Government will hold a road safety summit early next year so that we can hear directly from councils about the barriers to and opportunities for improving road safety,” says Genter.
The NZTA will begin engagement with communities on the proposed safety improvements before Christmas, with work starting in February.