The 42km stretch of SH2 between Pakipaki and Waipukurau is set for an $8.9 million safety upgrade as part of the New Zealand Transport Agency's 2016-2017 safety initiatives programme.

The programme of works, which is scheduled to begin early next year and be fully carried out over six years, is one of four components of the NZTA's safety wrap which will also include work on stretches of the northern stretch of SH2 between Bay View and Wairoa.

Tukituki MP Craig Foss has welcomed the announcement to tackle some of Hawke's Bay's most dangerous stretches of open roads.

"This is fantastic news for Hawke's Bay - investment into upgrading the safety of SH2 Pakipaki to Waipukurau will significantly reduce deaths and serious injuries," Mr Foss said.

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"We know that eight of 10 fatal and serious injury crashes on state highways occur on rural roads, and 85 to 90 per cent of those are head-on or where the driver runs off the road."

The safety work will cover a range of areas and will include a combination of side barriers, rumble strips, wide centre-line treatments and median barriers.

In some areas, which had been identified for a safety upgrade, corners will be softened to improve visibility, and road marking and signage highlighting the road sections will be upgraded.

Mr Foss said investing nearly $9 million into the safety of the stretch of highway from Pakipaki to Waipukurau "demonstrated the Government's commitment to reducing death and serious injuries crashes on our roads".

There have been two fatal crashes on the stretch this year and a string of minor and moderate injury accidents.

On February 16, a 19-year-old woman died after her car was in collision with a truck near Pakipaki.

At the time, police attending said it was the second serious incident on the highway near Pakipaki in less than a month.

On March 6, a 20-year-old Hastings woman was seriously injured in a collision with a turning car near Pakipaki.

And on March 10, a 61-year-old man, who had been a hitch-hiking passenger in a car, died after it left the road and crashed into a ditch on SH2 just north of Te Aute College.

The 2016-2017 NZTA safety initiatives are listed as:

• Identify sites for electronic warning signs on out of context curves and high-risk intersections.
• Implementing safety-driven initiatives between Pakipaki intersection and the southern boundary and between Wairoa and Bay View.
• Focus on high-risk sites between Morere and Napier based on crash clusters over 5km lengths.
• Identify opportunities to improve safety of pedestrians and cyclists at high-risk sites, eg near schools.