Safe roads and roadsides

Goal for 2020

Our Safe System goal is to improve the safety of roads and roadsides to significantly reduce the likelihood of crashes occurring and to minimise the consequences of crashes when they do. This requires a focus on reducing the highest risk crash types: head-on, run-off road, intersection crashes, and crashes involving pedestrians and cyclists.

Where we are 

The first Action Plan targeted high-risk rural roads and intersections. The High Risk Rural Roads GuideSafer Journeys for Motorcycling Guide, and the High Risk Intersection Guide all strengthen our approach to targeting high-risk roads and roadsides. They provide robust tools to guide investment and improvements.

Safe System Signature Projects have started, and a review of design standards that ensure the Roads of National Significance (RoNS) will be implemented with a minimum four-star KiwiRAP rating has been completed. Changing the Give Way Rule was another significant step expected to improve road safety.

In terms of outcomes, progress has been mixed. The rate of fatal or serious injuries has decreased most on the state highway network with less progress on local roads. We still have over 700 deaths or serious injuries each year from head-on and run-off road crashes, which indicates opportunities for improvement.

Where we want to be by 2016

By 2016 we want the intersections and roads with the greatest collective risk to have been identified, and safety improvements made or programmed. The guides referred to above provide the tools to identify these intersections and roads. The consolidated analysis across all roads still needs to be done.

We will also pay particular attention to other road types associated with high-risk crashes, such as mixed-use urban arterials. These actions improve the safety of cyclists and pedestrians in particular.


Work will continue on the safe roads and roadsides actions identified in the 2011-12 Action Plan but below are the additional actions identified for 2013-15.

The National Land Transport Programme (NLTP) 2012-15 includes many programmed actions to improve high-risk roads, particularly on state highways, using the interventions from theHigh Risk Rural Roads Guide (which covers all non-urban roads).  Safe System Signature Projects will include actions to improve roads and roadsides. Other actions in this plan (such as implementing safer speeds and increasing the use of technology such as Intelligent Speed Assistance) will also strengthen roading performance for all road users.  The following are additional actions required to achieve further reductions in deaths and serious injuries.

Identify and improve high-risk intersections

Use the High Risk Intersection Guide to identify and target the 100 highest-risk intersections to address by 2020. A programme will be developed to improve at least 20 intersections in the course of this plan. Improving urban intersections will benefit pedestrians and cyclists. Planning for accelerated improvements during the 2015-18 NLTP period, using the Safe System interventions from the guide will also begin.

Improve high-risk rural and local roads 

Head-on and run-off road crashes will be identified and targeted using the methods and treatments outlined in the High Risk Rural Roads Guide.

Reduce risk on high-risk motorcycling routes

Addressing high-risk rural roads and high-risk intersections will include using the Safer Journeys for Motorcycling Guide and working with the Motorcycle Safety Advisory Council to devise solutions to reduce motorcycle deaths and serious injuries.

Ensure optimal road safety benefits by prioritising investment in operations and maintenance 

A review and alignment of funding arrangements within the Government Policy Statement on Land Transport Funding, NZ Transport Agency and Territorial Local Authority funding procedures will occur to ensure sufficient ongoing investment priority for essential operational and maintenance costs associated with safety improvements. The review is important because Safe System improvements such as improved skid resistance, electronic curve warning signs, audio-tactile markings, variable speed signs and safety barriers carry increased operational and maintenance costs. 

Image showing the new actions for safe roads and roadsides

NRSC Milestones

In 2013 a high-risk intersection programme will be developed and launched (100 highest risk intersections identified and communicated). Over 2014/15 the following will be delivered:

  • By September 2014 solutions will be developed for at least 30 high-risk intersections.
  • By June 2015 at least 20 high-risk intersections will be improved as per agreed solutions.

As part of the development of the next Government Policy Statement on Land Transport Funding and the NZ Transport Agency Investment and Revenue Strategy, investment in operations and maintenance will prioritise safety outcomes.

Safe System

A Safe road system increasingly free of death and serious injury