16 Dec 2018

$1.4b for safety upgrades of most dangerous highways

12:51 pm on 16 December 2018

The government will spend $1.4 billion over the next three years on safety upgrades for the country's most dangerous roads.

Policeman during investigation at road accident area. (File photo)

Photo: 123RF

Transport Minister Phil Twyford announced the Safe Network Programme today at Dome Valley north of Auckland.

The programme aims to make almost 900km of busy, dangerous state highways safer by 2021 with things like median and side barriers, rumble strips and shoulder widening.

Associate Transport Minister Julie Anne Genter said with more than 370 deaths on the country's roads last year safety needs to be the priority.

The programme will target an estimated $600 million to $700m of state highway safety improvements and $700m to $800m of local road safety improvements.

In a statement, Ms Genter said the death toll was not acceptable and that safety was a priorty.

"Annual road deaths in New Zealand increased from 253 just a few years ago in 2013, to 378 last year. The number of serious injuries increased from 2020 to 2836 per year over the same period," Ms Genter said.

"Over half of all fatal crashes happen on local roads and we recognise central government funding will help make these roads safer sooner."

A programme of local road safety projects is already under development with the first projects expected to begin next year.

Regions with the highest rates of deaths and serious injuries will be prioritised in the first year of the programme.

One of the first projects to be funded is improvements to 15km of State Highway One through Dome Valley where 17 people died between 2006 and 2015.

Once complete, the improvements are expected to prevent 160 deaths and serious injuries every year.