Innovative safety rails especially designed to protect motorcyclists if they crash have been installed on New Zealand roads for the first time.
The new rails have been added to existing roadside safety barriers along a 130km state highway route called the Coromandel loop. Popular with riders, it passes through Kopu, Whangamata, Waihi and Paeroa.
Statistics show around four per cent of fatal motorcycle crashes involve collisions with the traditional roadside barriers, which are designed primarily to protect people in cars.
The new system works to reduce serious injuries and deaths by redirecting the rider along the barrier and away from the guardrail posts if they come off their motorbike.
The initiative has been funded through the Motorcycle Safety Levy (MSL) and is the latest in a range of safety improvements that have been rolled out under the Safer Rides motorcycle safety project.
Over the past year the inter-agency project has seen a whole range of improvements to the scenic route, from wider edge-lines and more forgiving covers for concrete pipes through to rescue helicopter landing pads.
Mark Gilbert, Chair of the Motorcycle Safety Advisory Council (MSAC), which advises ACC on where the levy should be invested, says the game changing new safety rails will be in place at 19 sites by the end of January.
“Recent overseas studies have shown motorcyclist safety rails are the most effective way to prevent serious injuries, as the motorcyclist is redirected away from the unforgiving barrier posts,” he says.
“Making our roads as motorcyclist-friendly as possible is a top priority for us. Quite simply, the more forgiving the roads and roadsides, the more survivable the crashes and the more lives saved.
“It’s about creating a more forgiving roadside environment so that motorcyclists who crash will sustain less serious injuries”.
Photographs showing the changes in place before and after at a site near Waihi:
The Safer Rides project is a New Zealand first and focuses on the 130km state highway route called the Coromandel loop, which passes through Kopu, Whangamata, Waihi and Paeroa.
Crash data over the five year period before the project started (2009-2013) shows that motorcycle riders were involved in 42 per cent of the fatal and serious crashes along this stretch of highway, yet they make up only two per cent of the road users.
The inter-agency project sees the NZ Transport Agency, Motorcycle Safety Advisory Council, ACC, Thames-Coromandel and Hauraki District Councils, Waikato Regional Council and the NZ Police working together with the aim of reducing the number of motorcyclists killed or seriously injured on the route.
The new safety rails are among a series of safety improvements being trialled as part of the project.
Along with upgraded signage for curves and wider edge-lines, a number of entrances along the route have been sealed to reduce the amount of gravel and other debris on the road.
Different road markings to help guide riders around corners are being trialled, guard rails have been added in areas with a steep drop off and a number of large concrete drainage pipes have been replaced with smaller flat and dome shaped covers, which are more forgiving in the event of a crash.
A series of billboards with tips for ways to cope with the challenges of riding the route have also been installed.
To view an interactive map showing the changes, or more information go to http://www.nzta.govt.nz/safety/driving-safely/motorcycling/motorcycle-safety-projects/safer-rides-southern-coromandel/(external link)
The Motorcycle Safety Advisory Council (MSAC) was established in 2011 by the Minister for ACC as an advisory group to ACC to represent the views and interests of motorcyclists at a high level.
Their purpose is to work with all road users and roading agencies to improve motorcycle safety.