Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency has hailed safety improvements on SH1 black spots as lifesavers after a dramatic drop in fatalities on the busy stretch of Northland road.
Centreline bollards, a half metre wide centreline with yellow no passing lines, and raised reflectors were installed on SH1 between Toetoe Rd in Otaika and Springfield Rd in Oakleigh in June 2018.
The safety improvements were a response by Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency to stymie the number of fatalities on the road, used by an average of 20,000 vehicles daily.
Nine road fatalities and 25 serious injuries were recorded on the busy patch of SH1 in the five years before the bollards were installed. Since their installation there has been one fatality and five serious injuries.
Waka Kotahi director of regional relationships Steve Mutton said the centreline bollards were designed to stop drivers crossing the centre line either in error or to overtake other vehicles.
"The safety posts and road markings are making a difference on a busy road that is undulating and winding with limited visibility and room for safe passing manoeuvres."
Further south, a notorious section of SH1 on the northern side of the Brynderwyn Hills had claimed five lives and was the scene of four serious injuries between 2006 and 2010.
Mutton said the addition of flexible road safety barriers, along a 14km stretch of the road's edge and centre line, had improved safety with no fatalities and five serious injuries since their 2015 installation.
Last year the barriers, used to separate north and south bound traffic, were hit 15 times.
Flexible barriers are designed to catch vehicles before they collide with harder objects - such as a pole, tree, or oncoming vehicle. When a flexible barrier is hit it absorbs the impact when the steel cables flex, slowing a vehicle down while keeping it upright.
"Each time the barriers are damaged we know that a serious crash has been avoided, and someone has either driven or walked away from the incident," Mutton said. "Each time the centre line barrier is damaged we know a potential head-on collision has been avoided."
Other safety measures included in the Brynderwyn Hills Improvement Project - completed in 2017 - were widened roads and shoulders, and tight corners being removed.
Installing infrastructure solutions like flexible road safety barriers and reviewing speed limits are part of the Government's road safety strategy, Road to Zero 2020-30.
Road to Zero aims to reduce deaths and serious injuries on our roads by 40 per cent over the next 10 years.
Further safety improvements – including widened centrelines and road shoulders, rumble strips and safety barriers – are planned on the state highway corridor between Whangārei and Port Marsden Highway on SH15 for April this year. They will take about 12 months to complete and will remain in place until the upgraded four-lane corridor between Whangārei and Port Marsden Highway is completed in 2028.