Waikato Regional Council welcomes the Government announcement on the $1.4 billion the Safe Network Programme, which will address high risk roads and set safe and appropriate speed limits.
Councillor and Waikato Regional Transport Committee chairman Hugh Vercoe says addressing road safety is a high priority for the committee as the Waikato had one of the highest fatality rates in the country.
“There have been more than 64 deaths on Waikato roads this year and that is nearly 20 per cent of the national road toll.
“The committee wants to see a regional 80-90kmh speed limit on rural roads in the region but we’re continually frustrated at the slow process of being able to make that happen.
“The Safe Network Programme has a toolkit developed and approved by the Transport Agency, which will make processes a lot faster. We are also pleased to see the Government providing a higher level of funding to councils to fix high risk local and regional roads; and reducing the speed limit on rural roads is something we will pursue.”
The three-year Safe Network Programme is being rolled out in the Waikato, Auckland and Canterbury this year, and aims to make New Zealand’s highest risk roads safer to reduce the number of deaths and serious injuries. Aside from safe and appropriate speeds, it also looks at safe roads, roadsides and level crossings.
The programme is in line with the Safe System, to make our roads more forgiving of mistakes. The Safe System recognises that people make mistakes, but these mistakes don’t have to cost lives.
Every week, on average seven people are killed and 54 people seriously injured on New Zealand roads. In 2017, 378 people lost their lives and 2838 suffered serious injuries. For the last five years, the number of deaths and serious injuries on New Zealand roads has been rising.
Cr Vercoe says the committee looks forward to working in partnership with the Transport Agency, NZ Police and all the territorial authorities in the region to reduce the number of fatalities and serious harm accidents on Waikato roads.
“Our road toll is a national tragedy because it’s not just Waikato residents on our roads. We’re bang smack in the middle of the North Island, and everyone goes through us to popular destinations such as Auckland or the Coromandel Peninsula.
“I urge everyone to keep road safety at front of mind as we head into the Christmas-New Year period; it’s going to be busy out there and our roads will be at full capacity.”