Revealed: Govt's median barriers plan to make our deadliest roads safer

The NZ Transport Agency is working on an ambitious $2 billion plan to install median barriers on nearly 1000km of our deadliest roads.

Just this week, seven people were killed in a head-on collision in South Taranaki - our deadliest accident in more than a decade.

The median barriers plan is part of a wider road safety push by Associate Transport Minister Julie Anne Genter.

"We should be targeting interventions to where they'll be the most effective," she told Newshub Nation.

NZTA has identified 477km of 'Quick Win' roads - places median barriers can be installed for maximum benefit, with the least cost and disruption. These will cost $716m.

One of these roads is the Hawke's Bay Expressway, where a person died in a head-on collision with a truck in May.

More details of the Government's options can be found here.

As well as those roads identified under 'Quick Wins', NZTA believes a further 500km of road could benefit from median barrier installation.

However these roads, which it calls 'Other Opportunities' would require expensive road works like widening or straightening and cost an additional $1.27b.

One example of an 'Other Opportunity' road is SH2 between Katikati and Tauranga, where local Tina Jennen almost died in a head-on collision in January 2017.

The driver who hit Ms Jennen fell asleep at the wheel. She's forgiven him but says our roads need to be more forgiving too.

"If we design around the potential for human error, which we cannot mitigate, we actually keep people safer," she says.

Altogether NZTA has identified 984km of 'Quick Wins' and 'Other Opportunities' roads at a cost of $1.98b for median barrier installation.

Based on 2017 data, NZTA estimates this could reduce the severity of 220 deadly or serious crashes and prevent 94 occurring.

Ms Genter admits the $2b is just an estimate, but points out the social cost of crashes has risen to more than $4b in recent years.

"You can't put a price on bringing those people back and there's a far greater number of people who're seriously injured, who might never recover in quite the same way," she says.

Whatever the final cost, Ms Jennen says it's an investment worth making.

"Let's spend that money proactively, instead of spending it over time just cleaning up a bunch of messes."

Watch the video for the full interview.

Newshub Nation.

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