The Safe Roads Alliance was established by Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency (Waka Kotahi), to address the high number of deaths and serious injuries on New Zealand’s rural state highways. It is a New Zealand-wide programme of road safety treatments.
Most deaths and serious injuries on New Zealand’s rural state highways are caused by head-on collisions or drivers running off the road and hitting trees, poles, or deep ditches. Waka Kotahi had struggled to efficiently deliver the road safety treatments under traditional contracting methods as they were generally small-scale and spread across the country.
The Safe Roads Alliance (the Alliance) was established by the New Zealand government in 2015 to accelerate the planning, design, and delivery of road safety and reduce the number of deaths and serious injuries on high-risk rural state highways.
Bringing together Waka Kotahi and BBO, Beca, and Northern Civil Consulting, the Alliance was formed to deliver a programme of safety improvements across the country. Many believed New Zealand’s state highways were ‘fine’ and considered accidents to be the result of human error. For the Alliance, it was simple – ‘mistakes shouldn’t cost people their lives; road safety improvements needed to reduce the consequences’.
The programme principally focused on high-risk rural state highways but also included improvements to high-risk rail crossings, bridges, the quick delivery of local safety programmes and speed management at high-risk rural intersections.
As locals know their roads best, the Alliance worked closely with communities and stakeholders to find solutions that best fit the day-to-day use of the roads. The Alliance's philosophy - ‘it's their road, not ours'.
The Alliance successfully delivered roadside safety barriers, wide centrelines, improved signage and markings, rumble strips, wider road shoulders, intersection upgrades, safe and appropriate speed limits, and improved safety at rail level crossings. Mistakes however do still happen, but the rationale of the Safe Roads Alliance was that if roads and roadsides could be made safer, the result of human error would be more forgiving and reduce the chance of people dying or being seriously injured if they crash.
The programme had a budget of $600m across 55 projects, proved its ability to deliver complex programmes, and supported Waka Kotahi in guiding long-term road safety planning. Together the Safe Roads Alliance ensured New Zealand's road safety efforts made a meaningful contribution to reducing the harm on our roads.