Dangerous overtaking is a major problem on New Zealand roads. Most crashes caused by dangerous overtaking occur on two-lane single carriageway roads, outside of designated passing lanes.
More passing lanes are needed
Part of the problem is that there are just not enough passing opportunities, especially on busier rural roads. Our roads are getting busier, which makes overtaking outside of passing lanes more difficult. Motorists are less likely to get frustrated and take risks overtaking other vehicles if they know there's a passing lane ahead.
Did you know?
Building more passing lanes is a highly effective way of reducing crashes and saving lives.
The good news is that more passing lanes are planned. The New Zealand Transport Agency's strategy is to have a passing lane every five kilometres on state highways that carry between 4,000 and 12,000 vehicles per day.
AA speaking up for motorists
All roads that carry a significant amount of traffic need to have safe overtaking opportunities so motorists are less likely to overtake in hazardous circumstances.
Support for more passing lanes
The AA supports the New Zealand Transport Agency's Passing Lane Strategy and recommends that these new passing lanes are built as quickly as possible. Priority must be given to the construction of passing lanes on busier roads that don't currently allow for safe overtaking. The Allen Report (Benefits of Investing in New Zealand's Road Infrastructure) identifies clear benefits (lives saved and economic value) of completing the passing lane strategy by 2012.
We're concerned that councils are currently not committed to building more passing lanes on their local roads, despite the fact that many non-state highway roads also carry over 4,000 vehicles per day. Where passing lanes are provided, we want signage to be installed with messages encouraging motorists to "Keep Left, Slow Down, and Let Others Pass" (currently "Keep Left Unless Passing").
Introduce other overtaking opportunities
In addition to passing lanes, we'd like to see more overtaking opportunities built in to the road network, e.g. slow vehicle bays, wide shoulders, pull-off areas and rest spots.
More education on safe overtaking
Bad overtaking has been ranked the most annoying driver behaviour by AA Members, so there is a clear need for more driver education on how to use passing lanes and overtake correctly.
What AA Members are saying
AA Members ranked bad overtaking, slow drivers and tailgating as the three most annoying driver behaviours in a March 2006 Survey. All of these behaviours reveal the conflict between those who wish to travel at one pace and those who wish to travel at another on New Zealand's two-lane single carriageway roads.
Building more passing opportunities will help prevent speed conflicts between those wanting to travel at different speeds.