Anna Leask

Anna Leask is a police reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

Revealed: Auckland city's worst crossings

Failure to pay attention to vehicles is the cause of most intersection accidents involving pedestrians.

The intersection of Victoria and Albert Street in Auckland. Photo / Richard Robinson
The intersection of Victoria and Albert Street in Auckland. Photo / Richard Robinson

Crossing the road is among the most dangerous of everyday activities - and police say even the slightest loss of concentration could have disastrous, if not fatal, results.

More than 700 pedestrians have been hit by cars at Auckland intersections over the past four years, and most victims were not paying attention to vehicles around them, distracted by cellphones or music players or succumbing to their own impatience.

New Zealand Transport Agency crash data released to the Herald shows the intersections in Auckland where the most pedestrians were hit by vehicles between 2008 and 2012.

During that period 749 people were hit, and of those 10 were killed and 106 suffered serious injuries.

The data shows the intersection that recorded the most pedestrian hits was Albert St and Victoria St West in the CBD, where six people were struck by vehicles.

Another five people were hit at the intersection of Queen and Shortland Sts, four were hit at each of Wellesley and Lorne Sts, Karangahape Rd and Howe St and New North and Mt Albert Rds.

Three pedestrians were hit at 13 intersections across the city.

Auckland road policing manager Inspector Gavin Macdonald said police were concerned about the number of pedestrians being hit at intersections.

"These incidences are preventable, especially when we get a death. There's really no need for it," he told the Herald.

"Our main focus is road safety, and that's for all road users, but particularly for pedestrians.

"They are what we call vulnerable road users. They've got no protection. They get hit by a car, they're going to come off second best.

"What I say to people is this: the most dangerous thing you will do today is cross the road or use the road.

"A small number get hit by cars that might be going through a red light or not watching.

"But the majority of pedestrians get hurt because they're just not concentrating or aware of their environment - they're disconnected from it."

Mr Macdonald said the majority of pedestrians hit simply "are not thinking about what they are doing".

"You see a lot of people with their iPods in their ears, or their heads down texting on their phones.

"They just walk out without even thinking.

"They're not taking responsibility for their own safety but they're expecting everyone else to look out for them.

"I think also people just aren't using crossings correctly. At controlled crossings with lights they should be waiting, be patient and when you get the green man - cross.

"A lot of people just decide 'I'm going to cross the road here' and they just go for it, without thinking of their safety. They'll just be lazy, not worry about it and wander across the road.

"They think 'I'll be OK'. They just need to be patient. We expect vehicles to obey traffic laws, and pedestrians should do that too - especially in the inner city."

Police work alongside Auckland Transport and run campaigns each year based on educating pedestrians about safety while crossing intersections and roads.

"Auckland Transport takes pedestrian safety very seriously and has a number of ongoing education and engineering programmes to address pedestrian safety, particularly in town centres and around schools," said Auckland Transport spokesman Mark Hannan.

He said the overall five-year trend for Auckland pedestrian fatal and serious crashes at intersections was tracking downwards.

Walking also remained less risky than driving overall.

Another trend that had changed was the age of pedestrians hit by cars, from children to young adults.

Mr Hannan said a number of measures were in place to "reduce the number and severity of pedestrian crashes".

They included speed reductions in busy pedestrian areas, traffic calming including speed bumps, regular education campaigns and working with the police to address drunk pedestrians in the CDB at night.

He said there were two basic rules that intersection users should live by.

"Pedestrians - check before you step. Drivers - look for pedestrians and lower your speed in pedestrian areas."

- NZ Herald

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