Fluorescent coloured poles installed on a 10km stretch of busy Northland highway may be helping to save lives, with no fatal or serious crashes reported since they were put in place.
The flexible safety posts sprung up between Toetoe Rd and Springfield Rd, along with a half-metre wide centreline with yellow no-passing lines and raised reflectors, on June 18.
The flexible safety posts and road markings are to stop drivers crossing the centre line, either in error or to overtake other vehicles, and putting themselves and other drivers at risk on a section of road which is undulating and winding with limited visibility and room for safe passing.
The stretch of State Highway 1 has a history of head–on collisions with about 16,000 vehicles on it every day, of which 12 per cent are heavy vehicles.
NZ Transport Agency director of Safety and Environment Harry Wilson said in the five and a half years before the safety posts were installed, there were 10 fatal and 20 serious injuries in crashes on this stretch of SH1.
That included two fatal and 10 serious injuries in the five and a half months of 2018 before the posts were installed.
Wilson said there have been no fatal or serious injury crashes reported to the agency since installation.
"The installation of flexible safety posts and other measures is part of the 'safe system' approach to road safety, where mistakes like crossing the centre line are inevitable but don't have to cost lives or serious injuries," Wilson said.
"Safety improvements to a road and the environment around it can significantly reduce the severity of injury or the likelihood of death, in the event of human error.
"We know that centre line barriers are effective in preventing or reducing head-on crashes.
"The fact that the safe hit posts are being struck shows they are doing their job and alerting drivers to potential danger.
"Every crash, injury and death on our roads is a tragedy for families and the wider community.
"The NZ Transport Agency is committed to reducing crash rates on this section of the highway."
He said the short-term improvements were in addition to the ongoing and long-term programme of work to provide safer, easier and more reliable journeys between Whangārei and Te Hana.
Regional Transport Committee chairman John Bain said any reduction in fatal or serious crashes anywhere in Northland was pleasing.
"The fact of life is that road is one of the most heavily used roads in Northland. For there to be no crashes of significance we are very pleased.
"For the very short period they have been there statistics show they have helped keep drivers think about staying on the correct side of the road. We have to credit the safety poles that have been put in place."
He had also received feedback from a truck driver who said red reflectors on bridges in the region had been a road safety improvement that was working well.
The posts were designed to flex or come off if hit and a number have been dislodged since installation, suggesting some motorists were continuing to cross the centre line.