Dangerous and safer roads

Each year road crashes cause huge suffering for thousands of New Zealand families. The great myth is that the fault lies solely with drivers. This is untrue. All drivers make mistakes, and even the safest drivers fall victim to circumstances outside their control, such as icy roads or a crash resulting from another driver's error.

Some roads are just riskier

Regardless of who is at fault, some roads are riskier and less forgiving of mistakes than others.

Did you know?

  • Installing rumble strips on high-risk roads can reduce crashes by up to 25% by preventing run-off-road and head-on collisions.
  • More than 90 percent of fatal head-on crashes could be avoided by having a median barrier.

For example, narrow winding roads and steep drops pose a safety risk that most drivers are instinctively aware of. A wide, straight stretch of highway may look safe, but roadside hazards such as trees, poles and ditches make that road unforgiving and deadly if your car swerves off the road.

Educating drivers and more clearly marking the danger of different roads can help raise awareness of hazards.

Importantly, many road deaths could be avoided by fixing and upgrading roads with simple and relatively inexpensive engineering solutions such as rumble strips, median and roadside barriers, and improved road marking.

AA speaking up for motorists

Safer Roads Project = Safer Drivers in Safer Cars on Safer Roads

The AA Safer Roads Project is a nationwide, community-based project focused on making our roads safer and more "forgiving" of driver error.

The project recognises that much of the past road safety focus has been on targeting driver behaviour (through increased enforcement) and improving vehicle safety (through technology), but a lot more needs to be done to improve the in-built safety of our roads.

A safe system has safe drivers in safe cars on safe roads.

KiwiRAP - New Zealand Road Assessment Programme

The AA and New Zealand's government transport agencies have developed a road safety tool called KiwiRAP.

KiwiRAP is an internationally recognised Road Assessment Programme (RAP) and is part of an international programme that includes Europe (EuroRAP), Australia (AusRAP) and the United States (usRAP).

KiwiRAP aims to increase public awareness that not all roads are the same.

Motorists who are aware of the higher risk roads can adjust their driving to take extra care. Similarly, KiwiRAP allows us to identify the safety shortcomings of roads that can be addressed with practical road safety measures.

KiwiRAP uses different methods to measure road safety, including risk maps based on the crash history of a road and five-star ratings based on a road's engineering features.

What AA Members are saying

Assessing the impact of different hazards and safety measures

AA Members were asked to imagine a situation where they were driving and lost control of a medium sized car on the open road at 70 km/h in a 2007 Survey. They were asked to identify the chances of someone in their car being killed or injured due to various roadside features.

75% of respondents thought that the existence of a cliff or steep bank at the edge of the meant it was probable or almost certain that someone would be killed or injured.

However, for a deep ditch at the roadside this dropped to 31%. In fact, around 12% of people thought it would be almost impossible or unlikely that someone would be killed or injured by a deep ditch.

The reality is that both scenarios are very dangerous and pose a high risk of death or serious injury

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