Flexible road safety barriers on SH30, between Awakeri and Te Teko, have prevented a car from leaving the road and crashing into a deep ditch, allowing the driver to walk away without sustaining any injuries.
The crash damaged a 30m section of the barrier, which is one of a number of safety improvements recently added to this section of the Bay of Plenty highway. Between 2004-2014 two people died and 15 were seriously injured on this section of the highway.
NZ Transport Agency Highways Manager Niclas Johansson says $2.5m was spent installing flexible barriers, widening the road, adding rumble strips and widening the centreline. The safety improvements were added after this stretch of the highway was identified as a high-risk rural road with a history of motorists losing control and running off the road.
“The driver of this vehicle is very lucky the flexible barrier was there and did what it was designed to do, slowing down the vehicle and redirecting it away from the deep ditch,” Mr Johansson says. “Without this barrier in place it is highly likely the driver would have sustained serious injuries.”
The section of road where the barrier has been installed is long and straight, with a deep ditch on the roadside.
Mr Johansson says the flexible road safety barriers ‘catch’ vehicles that leave their lane before they hit something less forgiving, like other vehicles, trees, poles or – in this case – a ditch on the side of the road.
“When a vehicle hits these barriers the high tension wire cables flex, slowing it down and redirecting it away from the oncoming vehicles or roadside hazards,” he says. “This flexibility means the barriers absorb the impact energy, reducing the harmful force on the people inside the vehicle.”
The flexible barrier will be repaired by replacing the damaged posts and re-tensioning the cable.
The SH30 Te Teko to Awakeri safety improvement project was completed earlier this year and is part of the Government’s $600 million Safe Roads and Roadsides programme aimed at making rural roads safer over the next six years. There are two other Safe Roads project underway in the Eastern Bay of Plenty, looking at improving safety on State Highway 2 between Ohope and Opotiki, and State Highway 34 from the SH30 intersection to Kawerau.