Every year on our roads, hundreds of New Zealanders are killed and thousands are seriously injured. The National-led Government is working hard to improve safety across the entire road system and bring the road toll down. Last week we reinforced that commitment, announcing we will be investing $600 million to make safety improvements to 90 high-risk black spots on rural main roads around the country. These safety upgrades will include nearly all high risk roads where there have been five or more fatalities in the last five years. It will make improvements to around 400 kilometres of rural state highways from Invercargill to north of Whangarei.
The safety upgrades will include a combination of side barriers, rumble strips, wide centre line treatments and median barriers. In some areas corners will be softened to improve visibility and road marking and signage highlighting the road environment will be upgraded. This programme of roading improvements is expected to result in 900 fewer deaths and serious……. injuries on our roads over the next 10 years. Currently, around eight out of 10 fatal and serious crashes on state highways occur on rural roads. Of those crashes, 85 to 90 per cent are head on or where the driver runs off the road. These improvements will make roads more forgiving of human error, helping to reduce the occurrence of these crashes in the first place and limiting their severity when they do happen.
This is a significant step up in road safety investment by the Government and reinforces our commitment to reducing death and serious injury crashes on New Zealand roads. This latest announcement adds to the broad programme of work we already have underway to improve road safety – including funding the roll out of powerful advertising campaigns, lowering blood alcohol levels, and installing hundreds of kilometres of rumble strips and median barriers. But at the end of day, the Government can only do so much. That’s why it’s also vital for all road users to take responsibility for their own safety and make smart choices — buckle up, slow down, and don’t drive impaired or fatigued.
Last week was National Volunteer Week, where we celebrated the 1.2 million New Zealanders who have stepped up to make a difference in their communities by volunteering their time to one or more charities. I just want to take a moment to thank all those who lend a helping hand to help others, the work you do is invaluable, and your actions make New Zealand a better country. Thank you again and keep up the good work.