The worst crash on New Zealand roads in 13 years on Wednesday was followed next day by Transport Minister Phil Twyford announcing the Government's 10-year transport plan which includes a pledge to "save lives on our roads".

The devastating head-on collision on the edge of Waverley left seven people dead, and our hearts go out to the families and friends of the victims - just as they go out to Ani Nohinohi, the sole survivor who is fighting for her life in Wellington hospital.

And, of course, we are left aghast and scratching our heads at how such a horrific accident could happen.

One reaction is to look to the Government and its determination to "save lives on our roads" and ask just what their plan is.


It is not as if we are not all aware of the dangers out there. Millions of dollars have been spent pressing home the road safety message and huge media attention is brought to bear on such tragedies and on New Zealand's road toll.

Yet we still have drivers speeding, we still have drivers under the influence of drink and drugs, we still have dangerous overtaking, and passengers without seatbelts.

If we are not exercising due care now, what will it take? How much money is needed when you are trying to change human nature?

One suggestion in the wake of the Waverley tragedy is erecting median barriers on our major highways, something which could virtually eliminate head-on collisions like Wednesday's.

One proponent of this is Clive Matthew-Wilson, founder of the Auckland-based car buyers' guide, the Dog & Lemon Guide.

He describes many of New Zealand's roads as being like "a staircase without a handrail - you make the slightest mistake, you're going to get hurt".

Median barriers are a very expensive solution, but they got a mention at the 10-year transport plan unveiling on Thursday.

While most of the attention was on Auckland, how to unpick its gridlock and, of course, the fuel tax, Associate Transport Minister Julie Anne Genter clearly appreciated the devastating loss of life just witnessed in Waverley was not something you came across amid Auckland's interminable traffic jams.


"More funding will be available for targeted safety improvements that will save lives," she said before referencing median and side barriers.

Could this be the way forward? It offers more hope than another round of road safety adverts - though, sadly, it will come too late for some.