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Why are safety improvements being made on only some parts of these roads and not the whole route?

The nature of the programme is to focus the safety improvements on state highways where there is higher risk. A number of the state highways being targeted also have particular sections within them that are higher risk due to the nature of the road (curves, narrow, winding).

Safety improvements are particularly focussed on these high-risk sections, allowing funding to be spread across parts of the network that need it most.

How will these upgrades improve road safety?

Rumble strips give off a rumbling sound when a vehicle drives over them. This gives distracted drivers a wake-up call if they stray across the line. Rumble strips can reduce all crashes by around 25 percent and fatal run-off-road crashes by up to 42 percent.1

Improved signs warn drivers of risks ahead, such as a winding section of road, or sharp curves.

Safety barriers stop a vehicle before it hits something harder – like a tree or power pole.

A wide sealed road shoulder gives road users room to recover if they lose control or need to move out of another’s way. Wide road shoulders can reduce serious crashes by up to 35 percent.

Intersection Speed Zones

What are Intersection Speed Zones?

Intersection Speed Zones, sometimes called Rural Intersection Activated Warning Signs (RIAWS), are electronic signs used to make some high-risk rural intersections safer, by lowering vehicle speeds on the highway.

The sign will activate if a vehicle is waiting at or approaching the intersection from a side road, or turning right into the side road from the main highway. The electronic sign will then flash, reducing the legal speed limit for vehicles on the State Highway from 100km/h to 60 or 70km/h.

If there are no vehicles waiting or approaching on the side roads, then the sign is switched off and speed limit of 100km/h doesn’t change.

How do Intersection Speed Zones work?

Do Intersection Speed Zones improve road safety?

Yes, most intersection crashes on high-speed roads involve crossing or turning vehicles.

We know that the risk of serious injury or death from side-impact crashes increases significantly above 50km/h, so getting motorists to slow down when there is another vehicle approaching these intersections will help prevent these types of crashes and significantly lower the risk of serious injury.

A study of the first 10 Intersection Speed Zones trialled in New Zealand found that the fatal and serious crash rate reduced by 79 percent and the overall crash rate reduced by 51 percent.

How were the Intersection Speed Zone locations selected?

The 10 intersections all have a high risk of serious crashes, where having lower speeds approaching the intersection would help improve safety

Community consultation on the 10 proposed Intersection Speed Zone sites was held from 5 to 30 March 2018, and submissions were largely supportive. This feedback was considered alongside the safety issues at these intersections and the potential benefits of Intersection Speed Zones before decisions were made.

Wouldn't a roundabout or other safety improvement be better at these intersections?

Roundabouts can be an effective way of preventing crashes at intersections. But they are costly, and take a significant amount of time to plan and build. Intersection Speed Zones are relatively low-cost, simple improvements that can prevent crashes. They can also be a good interim measure until larger scale improvements are made.

Where are Intersection Speed Zones being used now?

Intersection Speed Zones are already being used in 13 locations on state highways around the country to slow traffic in high-risk locations with minimal disruption to travellers. These locations are:

Intersection Region
SH1/SH10 Pakaraka Northland
SH10/SH11 Puketona
Northland
SH1/SH12 Brywnderwyns Northland
SH1B/Holland Rd
Waikato
SH1/Highway 56/Himatangi Beach Rd Himatangi, Manawatū
SH3/SH54

Newbury, Palmerston North

SH2/East Taratahi Rd/Wiltons Rd Wairarapa
SH1/Burnham Rd Burnham, Canterbury
SH1/Williams Rd Kaiapoi, Canterbury
SH73/Buchanans Rd Yaldhurst, Canterbury
SH1/Waterholes Rd Canterbury
SH1/Moeraki Boulders Rd Moeraki
SH1/Kennington Rd Invercargill

1High Risk Rural Roads Guide, published September 2011, Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency. First Edition [PDF, 3.6 MB]

2 Mackie, H., Brodie, C., Scott, R., Hirsch, L., Tate, F., Russell, M., & Holst, K. (2017) The signs they are a-changin’: Development and evaluation of New Zealand’s rural intersection active warning system. Journal of the Australian College of Road Safety 28(3), 11-21.