Safer speeds and more signs through townships, pull-over areas for slow vehicles, and safety barriers are among changes people would like to see on State Highway 1 in North Otago.
The NZ Transport Agency has been looking at ways to make a stretch of the highway between Dunedin and the Waitaki River Bridge, north of Oamaru, safer.
In the 10 years from 2007 to the end of 2016, 30 people were killed and 112 were seriously injured on this section of road.
Most serious crashes were head-on, or involved people losing control of their vehicle and crashing into roadside objects such as trees, fences or ditches. There have also been a number of crashes at intersections on the route.
Transport Agency System Manager Graeme Hall says there were a series of community events in Dunedin, Waikouaiti, Hampden and Oamaru earlier this year to share safety ideas and find out more from people who use the road.
Staff also attended A&P Shows in Palmerston and Oamaru and Blueskin On Show in Waitati to talk to the community, and invited feedback online and by mail.
“We wanted to find out what makes the road feel unsafe and what people think could make this road safer,” Mr Hall says. “Since then, we’ve continued to have great conversations with people in the community and commuters about making the road safer.
“People have told us they feel nervous turning onto or off the state highway at some intersections, they also spoke about the sharp corners and lack of visibility in some areas and highlighted passing lanes that they believe are too short, or dangerous, as they end on the brow of a hill.
“Some feel unsafe walking and driving across the highway in townships due to the speed and volume of traffic, and many were worried about drivers crossing the centreline or taking risks when they’re overtaking.”
Mr Hall says getting feedback from people who know the road well is important.
“We use the information alongside our research to make sure we have a full picture, and that the safety improvements we decide on are the right ones for the community and for people who use the road," he says.
The team has also met stakeholders such as local community groups, councils, emergency services, DOC, AA, and the Heavy Haulage Association to add to the feedback and information they received from the public, to make sure they have the whole story.
The project team will make final decisions on safety improvements for this road and share them with the community later this year.
The safety improvements are designed to ensure a simple mistake doesn’t result in someone dying or being seriously injured on the road.
Possible improvements include putting in barriers or wide centrelines to help prevent head-on crashes, side safety barriers to stop drivers running off the road into steep gullies, ditches, trees and posts, widening the road shoulder to give drivers more room to recover if they lose control, and installing rumble strips to alert drivers if they stray out of their lane.
Improving safety at intersections and the speed along the road will also be looked at, along with other safety issues raised by the public.
More information about the project can be found at www.nzta.govt.nz/o2d(external link)