Median barriers should be top road safety priority

A simple median barrier would have prevented today’s multiple fatalities at Waverly, says the car review website

A newborn baby was among six killed in a head-on collision.

Editor Clive Matthew-Wilson, who is an outspoken road safety campaigner, says blaming bad driving does not save lives:

“Six people are dead because a simple barrier was missing off that road. That’s the simple fact. If the government is serious about lowering the road toll, the highest priority must be given to improving the safety of our Third World roads.”

“Multiple studies have shown that median barriers can prevent virtually 100% of head-on collisions. So why aren’t median barriers fitted on all our major roads?”

Matthew-Wilson says the previous government made multi-billion dollar commitments to a few grand highway schemes. 

“The so-called Roads of National Importance drained away funds needed to improve many of our most dangerous roads.”

“The new government has given the New Zealand Transport Agency billions to improve our roading system. It’s now up to the NZTA to prioritise spending on safety.” 

“The cost of installing a median barrier ranges from about 1.5 million to 2.5 million dollars per kilometre. Up to one million dollars of this cost is bureaucracy. That’s simply unacceptable. The end result of this slow and expensive bureaucratic process is fewer median barriers and therefore multiple fatalities, such as we saw today.”

A study by Monash University of the effectiveness of roadside fencing and median barriers concluded that: “reductions of up to 90% in death and serious injury can be achieved, with no evidence of increased road trauma for motorcyclists.”

Matthew-Wilson describes many New Zealand roads as being like “a staircase without a handrail – you make the slightest mistake, you’re going to get hurt.”