The announcement state highways around Waikato and the Bay are set for a $73 million upgrade is great news.

The wider $600 million allocated to rural highways around the country is an attempt to make high risk rural highways safer and reduce the number of people being killed and seriously injured on them.

Already this year there have been four people killed on Western Bay roads. The 2015 road toll for the region was 18 deaths.

Katikati pensioner Inez Johns, who was seriously injured in a crash, said she looked forward to the improvements, but it would take more than money to make roads safer.


In November 2013, Mrs Johns and husband Harry were travelling to go dancing when a drunk driver crossed into their lane, colliding head-on and inflicting life-changing injuries. The 80-year-old was hospitalised with critical spinal injuries to her lower back and internal injuries. Mr Johns, 85, was hospitalised with spinal fractures to his neck and broken ribs.

Of course, no matter how good the roads are and what improvements are made, they all count for nothing if drivers don't play their part.

A driver who is drunk, not paying attention, or going too fast can cause carnage and tragedy on any road, no matter how good the road or how many precautions are in place.

Rural highways in New Zealand can be tricky, even for the best of drivers.

Whether or not you grew up on them, one moment of inattention, one slippery patch of ice, a roaming cow or another unpredictable driver all have the potential to catch us out.

The Government is taking steps to try to lessen the likelihood of those inevitable human-error moments turning to tragedy.

It's now up to drivers to do their bit to make that investment count and prevent more families losing a loved one.