Electronic warning signs have been installed at the intersection of Buchanans Road and State Highway 73 as part of a two-year trial to improve safety at the intersection where there have been 19 crashes in 10 years.
The Rural Intersection Activated Warning Signs (RIAWS) are designed to reduce the severity of crashes at high-risk rural intersections by reducing the operating speed on the main road, says the NZ Transport Agency Canterbury/West Coast State Highway Manager Colin Knaggs.
Of the 19 recorded crashes from 2003 to 2012, one was fatal; four resulted in serious injury and six minor injuries. The remaining eight were non-injury.
Mr Knaggs says safety improvements on high-risk rural roads and at high-risk intersections are a key area of focus in the NZTA's Safer Journeys strategy which aims to create a road system free of death and serious injury, while introducing the Safe System approach to New Zealand.
"The Safe System approach means that wherever possible the potential for serious injury should be reduced.
"The greatest proportion of intersection crashes within high-speed environments are crossing or turning crashes between two vehicles and we know that the risk of serious injury or death from side impact crashes increases significantly above 50km/h."
Two trial sites for the new signs have been identified in New Zealand - the other being on State Highway 1 and Route 56 at Himatangi, north of Foxton.
"When a vehicle on Buchanans Road approaches the intersection, the electronic signs on SH73, about 150m each side of the intersection, will flash and display a 70km/h speed limit. Traffic on the state highway will need to slow to this speed, thus reducing the impact speed should a collision occur.
"If there are no vehicles on the Buchanans Road approach, the open road speed limit of 100km/h will apply."
The RIAWS trial contributes to two of the Safe System cornerstones - safe speeds and safe road use.