Bay's top danger zones

By Sam Hurley

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Ambulances were on the scene of last week's crash, which seriously injured a woman, and happened at Hawke's Bay's most dangerous intersection, near Westshore.
Ambulances were on the scene of last week's crash, which seriously injured a woman, and happened at Hawke's Bay's most dangerous intersection, near Westshore.

Hawke's Bay has seven of the most treacherous intersections in the country, including one in the top five of the New Zealand Transport Agency's riskiest junctions.

Associate Transport Minister Michael Woodhouse yesterday announced the top 100 list for New Zealand's most dangerous interchanges.

He said they are being targeted for safety improvements as part of the Government's and NZTA's on-going effort to reduce death and injury on the nation's roads.

Hawke's Bay's most perilous crossroad and the fifth most dangerous in the country was the merging of SH2, or Main North Rd, and the Hawke's Bay Expressway.

The junction near the airport was the scene of 20 crashes causing injury, including one fatality and seven serious injuries from 2003 to 2012. Planning is under way to improve the safety of the intersection.

Number 19 on the top 100 list, and the second most hazardous in Hawke's Bay, was the interchange with the expressway and Links Rd where a total of 19 crashes causing injury took place, one fatality and five people seriously injured.

An agreed NZTA safety plan is already in place at the intersection.

Hawke's Bay RoadSafe regional manager Linda Anderson said the high-risk junctions were already well known to authorities. "We are trying to educate the drivers to the risks these intersections hold and that is something we will be doing for some time."

She said roading engineers were working on ways to improve the safety of the often deadly crossings, especially those where the driver entered a "high-speed" area.

She added some drivers "no matter what" fail to adhere to the warnings, leaving police tasked with the job of targeting high risk areas to make sure drivers comply.

"NZTA is looking at roads all around the country, roads of national significance to improve and with the Hastings District Council reducing speeds on a number of roads recently that will only improve safety," Ms Anderson said.

Some locations, she added, will need traffic flow or speed adjustments, while others will require improved warnings or road layout changes.

She said some drivers will make "questionable choices" and "undue risks" but it would be unfair to categorise Hawke's Bay drivers as 'bad' when a number of crashes involved drivers from other regions.

An Eastern District Police spokeswoman said patrol cars do monitor high-risk intersections more frequently than others.

"Hawke's Bay drivers are probably no worse than anywhere else around the country," she said. "Drivers need to take more care at these identified intersections and be aware that they can be dangerous. Any intersection can be hazardous, but the more dangerous ones should be treated accordingly."

Mr Woodhouse said the list had been compiled by the NZTA, with input from local authorities, by using guidelines developed in 2013 to provide a nationally consistent method of assessing crash data to identify intersection crash risks.

Nationally, the crash figures were analysed for the 10 years from 2003 to 2012, with 53 deaths and 445 serious injuries recorded at the 100 highest-risk intersections over that period.

Auckland was awarded the dubious honour of the joint deadliest and most unsafe intersection, Glenbrook Rd and Kingseat Rd, with three deaths and seven serious injures earning it No1 on the list.

Two crossings in the Taupo District rounded out the top three, including the notorious Napier-Taupo Rd meeting with Arrowsmith Ave.

Mr Woodhouse said the Government had also provided guidance to road controlling authorities on the most effective ways of improving safety at intersections for all road users.

"We're making good progress in reducing the road toll, but there is no room for complacency. It's great to see these agencies working together to achieve tangible results that will reduce crashes, prevent injuries and save lives."

He said the list will be a permanent initiative and be updated periodically.

The high-risk intersection work is part of the Government's broader Safer Journeys strategy, which aims to significantly reduce deaths and serious injuries from road crashes by 2020.

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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