New Zealand's most dangerous state highways and local roads are about to be made safer as part of the Government's $1.4 billion Safe Network Programme.

The announcement was made when Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Transport Minister Phil Twyford and Associate Transport Minister Julie Anne Genter visited SH3 between Ohaupo and Te Awamutu, and one of seven completed projects in the Waikato as part of the programme.

When first announced, the Government said 860km of road was included in the safety improvements, but on Thursday Minister Twyford said a further 2430km has been added which extends to 3300km of state highways and local roads over the next three years.

Ms Ardern said that it was a priority of the Government to improve road safety, after 382 people had died on New Zealand roads last year.

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So far, 212 people have died on New Zealand roads this year. In the Waikato however, there has been an increase in road deaths so far this year, according to the NZTA.

There have been 52 roads deaths in the region, with 26 of them on open road state highways, with another 20 on open local roads.

Only six people have died on urban roads in the region.

There have been 26 driver deaths, while another 18 passenger deaths.

It is an increase from January 2018 to July 2018, where there were 21 driver deaths and 11 passenger deaths.

"We can't simply rely on our drivers making sure they can do everything they can because ultimately they are humans and humans make errors," Ms Ardern said.

"We need to make sure we are improving our roading network to try and reduce fatalities if an error occurs."

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern greets Waipa mayor Jim Mylchreest. Photo / Colin Thorsen
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern greets Waipa mayor Jim Mylchreest. Photo / Colin Thorsen

Ms Ardern said the new barriers installed at SH3 are designed to take some of the force and reduce deaths with the barrier at SH3 already having been hit 40 times.

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"That means 40 times an injury has been prevented or a life has been saved."

Minister Twyford said the reality is that only three per cent of deaths happened on the four-lane highway routes that the National Government have been lobbying for.

"Our Government is taking a balanced approach and is investing more than ever before in local roads, public transports and rail after years of more than 40 per cent on average on new motorway projects that carried four per cent of vehicle journey," Mr Twyford said.

"We are prioritising safety, the rail network and reducing congestion in our city by investing in modern transport system, this balanced approach will see roads safer for everyone."

Ms Genter said the Government believes it is unacceptable for anyone to be killed or seriously injured on our roads.

"Most road deaths and serious injuries are preventable and too many New Zealanders have lost their lives or been seriously injured in crashes that could have been prevented by road safety upgrades," Ms Genter said.

"We are taking a balanced approach to making our roads safer — investing significantly more in safety improvements, increasing safe driving messages and investigating lower speed limits only on the most dangerous roads in the country.

"Our Government is currently seeking feedback on a wider 10 year road safety plan that includes prioritising road policing and enforcement, a new focus on work-related safety and improving the safety of vehicles entering the fleet.

"This plan also proposes greater investment in proven safety upgrades like the ones being rolled out now, such as median barriers, roundabouts and safe cycling infrastructure," Ms Genter said.

Completed projects
The seven completed projects in the greater Waikato:
• SH3 Awakino to Mt Messenger (stage 1 safety and resilience works completed)
• SH1B Taupiri to Gordonton
• SH23 Waitetuna to Raglan (stage 1 completed)
• SH27/26/24
• SH3 Ohaupo to Te Awamutu
• H3/SH37 to Te Kuiti
• SH1 Bombay to Hampton Downs (stage 1 completed)