State highways around Rotorua are set for a million-dollar upgrade.

Targeted safety upgrades designed to reduce the risk of death and serious injury crashes are being installed around the region this month by the NZ Transport Agency.

The work is being carried out in response to the Government's Safer Journeys' strategy to reduce death and serious injury crashes on New Zealand roads.

Bay of Plenty highways manager Niclas Johansson said the changes are designed to make the roads and roadsides more forgiving, reducing the impact if a driver makes a mistake and crashes.


The $1.02 million Rotorua investment includes new signs and road markings, which make a more readable road and alert drivers to what is ahead, and upgrades to the high-risk State Highway 5/Tutukau Rd intersection, which will be widened and upgraded with a new right-turn bay.

Trees will be trimmed or removed to improve visibility, and guard rails will be installed on State Highway 5 Waiotapu, State Highway 30 Whirinaki Valley, State Highway 36 Kaharoa Rd and SH5 Tutukau Rd, Mihi.

"The guard rails are being installed on corners where there is a risk of people losing control and driving off the road," Mr Johansson says.

"Half of the death and serious injury crashes in New Zealand are from drivers losing control and running off the road. A guard rail that keeps vehicles on the road can mean the difference between someone walking away from a crash or being taken away by an ambulance or in a hearse."

Putting in place measures that help prevent road crashes from occurring is a major focus for the Transport Agency, Mr Johansson said.

"However, no matter how many measures we develop, mistakes will still happen and road crashes will occur."

"Installing guard rails, removing hazards such as trees and creating a more readable road with upgraded signs and road marking help to create more forgiving roads and roadsides that reduce the impact if a driver makes a mistake and crashes."

The SH5 Tutukau Rd site was finished early this month, and the remainder of the works are under way and will be finished by mid-June. Motorists are advised to drive with care through the work sites.