Unprotected roads are killing motorists – expert

Monday 22 August 2011, 9:22AM
By Dog & Lemon Guide

Motorists are dying needlessly due to a lack of simple road barriers, says a leading road safety campaigner.

Clive Matthew-Wilson, editor of the car review website, was commenting after the latest in a series of fatal crashes caused by cars crossing the centre line into the path of an oncoming vehicle.

Scientific studies show beyond doubt that many head-on collisions are easily preventable if wire rope barriers are installed on existing roads. However, instead of installing more barriers, the government has abandoned plans to build barriers on some of this country’s most dangerous roads.”

The New Zealand Transport Agency recently cancelled plans to install two wire rope median barriers on the Kapiti coast highway.

“This is, quite simply, insane,” says Matthew-Wilson. “Since the wire rope median barrier was installed on the nearby Centennial highway, most of the serious injuries and deaths stopped overnight. Yet, just up the road from the Centennial highway, the government has cancelled plans for further barriers.”

“These are very dangerous roads, and the cost of the barrier is peanuts compared to the cost of building a new highway.”

Dr Chris Lane, director of the Kapiti Emergency Medical Services, agrees. Over the past 20 years he has attended most of the serious and fatal crashes on State Highway One in the Kapiti district. Dr Lane believes that a high number of serious injuries and deaths will continue on the unprotected sections of the highway until median barriers are installed.

“The government should make these wire rope barriers its top priority, far ahead of building new roads that may not be ready for years.”

Matthew-Wilson adds:

“For as long as there have been cars, there have been angry, tired and distracted drivers who tragically die due to a single moment’s inattention. I think that, in 100 years time, children will scarcely believe that, in the 21st century, cars were able to speed past each other in opposite directions at 100km/h, with nothing to stop those vehicles colliding.”

“Using simple, affordable barriers, we can stop common driver mistakes from becoming fatal head-on collisions. Yet the government is canceling the very projects that have been proven to save lives. This is utter madness.”

• The New Zealand Transport Agency recently cancelled plans to install two, one-kilometre wire rope barriers on State Highway 1 between Otaihanga and Waikanae and another between Paekakariki and McKays Crossing, citing lack of funds.