Isaac Davison is a NZ Herald political reporter.

Urban roads far more deadly

Last year Auckland road accidents caused  4165 injuries, including 53 deaths. Photo / Sarah Ivey
Last year Auckland road accidents caused 4165 injuries, including 53 deaths. Photo / Sarah Ivey

Deadly crashes are far more likely to occur on Auckland's urban roads than its state highways or rural roads, according to newly released reports which show the factors behind every major road accident.

Auckland is shown to be a risky spot for young drivers and cyclists - its waterfront is listed as a particular blackspot for cycling commuters.

The reports showed Auckland's road toll of 625 in the past 10 years was second-worst in the country, after Waikato. It also showed a slight decline in deaths on the road during the decade.

Last year Auckland road accidents caused 4165 injuries, including 53 deaths. The Ministry of Transport estimated the total social cost of these incidents to be $876.2 million.

The figures were published by the Transport Agency this week to provide a snapshot of trends in road safety between 2006 and 2010.

Waikato had the worst road toll in the country, with 677 deaths between 2001 and 2010.

The Bay of Plenty, which includes the notorious Kaimai Ranges highway, had 305 deaths on its roads in that time.

Four children were last night still in hospital after last Monday's school bus accident in the Bay of Plenty.

Thirty-six people, nearly all school students, were injured after a logging truck crashed into the bus in rural Ruatoki, south of Whakatane.

The Transport Agency reports showed that 12 per cent of all serious and fatal crashes in New Zealand occurred on Auckland's urban streets - twice as many as on Waikato's infamous rural highways. Half of Auckland's injury-related crashes occurred at intersections.

Safer Journeys, New Zealand's road safety strategy, pinpointed Central Auckland and South Auckland intersections as areas of high risk.

The studies also spelled out Auckland's bleak record on cycling safety. Between 2006 and 2010, cyclists represented 7 per cent of all serious and fatal crashes.

The most common type of cycle-related crash was when a cyclist travelling straight through an intersection was struck on the right by a vehicle or cyclist making a right turn.

Intersections on Tamaki Drive made up three of the six worst spots for cycling-related crashes. The intersection between Tamaki Drive and Ngapipi Rd was the most dangerous, with 11 crashes in five years, followed by the intersection between Tamaki Drive and Patteson Ave.

About 5 per cent of New Zealand's total road deaths occurred on Auckland's rural roads and highways.

A map of rural crashes showed the most dangerous stretch in the wider Auckland region was the road between Warkworth and Wellsford, which claimed 11 lives between 2006 and 2010.

The data spelled out the variety of influences behind fatal crashes - from the experience of the driver, to the conditions of the car, and the quality of a road and its safety signage.

The Transport Agency cited a crash from January 2007 in which two sisters, aged 15 and 18, were killed when their car slid sideways on an overbridge and into an oncoming truck. Investigators found a variety of causes, including the mismatched, worn tyres on the sisters' car and the fact that the driver might have been texting. This was before a law change made cellphone use illegal.

Records also indicated there had been five crashes near the bridge. As a result of the investigation, the speed advisory signage was dropped from 85km/h to 75km/h.

The agency report said: "This incident demonstrates the many factors typically involved in a crash. To avoid similar fatalities we need to look beyond driver blame and work on strengthening all parts of the system: the roads and roadsides, the speed, the vehicle and the road use."

- NZ Herald

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