Govt targets rural blackspots with $600m plan

Transport Minister Simon Bridges (Dan Pannett / Newshub.)
Transport Minister Simon Bridges (Dan Pannett / Newshub.)

The country's rural highways are getting massive cash injection from the Government, with hundreds of million dollars to be invested over the next six years.

Transport Minister Simon Bridges says $600 million worth of measures are to be put in place, which he says is $60 million more than what is currently being spent every year.

They will include putting in more side barriers, rumble strips and centrelines, on the rural roads.

Eighty percent of fatal crashes on New Zealand roads occur on rural highways, but despite the high profile given to accidents involving foreign drivers, he says the measures aren't just for those people.

"It's not aimed at the tourist drivers. Many know the numbers there, in proportion to the number of tourist drivers is not significantly higher," says Mr Bridges.

The regions receiving the most funding are unclear, but Waitomo in the King Country is one area being targeted.

"In Waitomo, for example, we've seen some tourist incidents, and we've seen some other crashes and fatalities throughout the years, so the improvements will make a difference."

Overall it's hoped the funding will save the lives, or stop the serious injuries of 900 motorists over the next decade.

The Automobile Association has labelled the announcement a "great day" for road safety in New Zealand.

"It's great to see the Government taking strong action that will greatly improve road safety on our highest risk rural State Highways," says motoring affairs general manager Mike Noon.