One simple road modification could have saved 12 lives in 10 days

Many recent road deaths would not have occurred on roads fitted with median barriers, says the car review website

Editor Clive Matthew-Wilson, who's an outspoken road safety campaigner, says:

"Head-on collisions have caused multiple road deaths in the last fortnight. Median barriers are as close as we're going to get to a magic bullet that prevents road deaths. They’re proven, cheap and practical. Installing median barriers and roadside fencing should be the nation's top road safety priority."

"In the 1980s, there was one serious accident a week on Auckland’s harbour bridge. The authorities blamed bad driving, and wasted many years asking motorists to drive safely.  The carnage continued."

"Eventually, a concrete median barrier was installed in the middle of the harbour bridge. Most of the serious accidents stopped immediately. There wasn’t one less idiot or drunk driver, yet the accidents stopped, simply because the road was changed in a way that prevented everyday mistakes from becoming fatalities."

Matthew-Wilson points out that there will be roads that are too narrow and winding for continuous median barriers and roadside fencing. However, he says:

"A large percentage of the country's most dangerous roads could be upgraded relatively cheaply and quickly."

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, who met recently with Associate Transport Minister Julie Anne Genter, says Ms Genter aims to streamline the process for upgrading unsafe roads.

"At present, the roading system is a shambles, with multiple districts and a slow and bureaucratic process for simple upgrades such as medians and safety fencing. My understanding is that the government intends to create a nationwide strategy to fasttrack these vital upgrades."

"For me, and the families of the recent victims, these upgrades can't come quick enough."


12 people who would probably be alive if the roads had been fitted with median barriers

10/3/18: German nationals Rebekka Maria Isenmann, 31, and Simon Daniel Schweizer, 35, died after their van collided with a truck in the central North Island.

10/3/18: German tourists Marlena Picht, 24, and Marc Damboldt, 30, died on Saturday when their people mover collided head-on with an oncoming truck just north of Kaeo.

11/3/18: Phillip Stretch, 33, and Johnathan Tairakena, 25, crashed and died in a head-on collision during a police pursuit in Nelson, also killing innocent motorist and mother, 53-year-old Carmen Marie Yanko.

12/3/18: Hori Kaiwai, 67, died following a crash on State Highway 5 that involved a car and a campervan, north of Rotorua*

12/3/18: 56-year-old Lynda Anne Bailey died in a crash between car and stock truck on State Highway 5 at  Ngatira, north of Rotorua.

18/3/18: two teenagers who died in a head-on crash on State Highway One near the town of Amberley in North Canterbury.

19/3/18 One died in a fiery head-on collision in Northland.


* Police have not released the full details of this crash, so  it is uncertain if this was a head-on collision. However, in the event that this accident happened at an intersection, it’s worth noting that multiple studies have shown that if roundabouts are installed at risky intersections, they can reduce injury crashes by 75%.