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HOW NEW ZEALAND DEVELOPED A DATA-DRIVEN NATIONAL SAFETY PROGRAM

Abstract: Like many countries, the majority of road safety investment in New Zealand is directed towards centrally managed state-controlled roads. Almost invariably, these roads carry the highest volumes of traffic and are critical connections between towns, cities and states. Given this knowledge, it is unsurprising that injury crash rates on state highways (9.4 per 100 Million Vehicle Miles Traveled (100M VMT)) are less than half of that on local roads (19.6 per 100M VMT). The New Zealand Transport Agency initiated an investigation to understand factors within their control that could be changed to improve safety outcomes on local roads.

Analysis of crash records showed that 65% of all injury crashes and 62% of all fatal crashes occurred on local roads. Further detailed examination identified a growing disparity between safety performance on state highways and local roads, which mirrored differing levels of investment over time. Those findings became the catalyst for the development of a national program of infrastructure measures on local roads to improve road safety outcomes. The program was developed using a data-driven approach to identify parts of the transport network with the greatest potential for safety improvement. There are numerous challenges involved in any large-scale risk assessment process; let alone assessing risk across a diverse range of geographic and physical environments, spanning more than 60 local authorities and covering some 70,000 miles of road. To meet this challenge, the NZ Transport Agency sought the assistance of Abley to identify common data sources that could be used to derive consistent safety metrics throughout the country. Separate risk metrics were developed for urban and rural roads, intersections, horizontal curves, and for specific targeted user groups (including motorcyclists, pedestrians and cyclists).

A streamlined method for proactively assessing risk using existing data sources was also developed, as it is well documented that crashes can be an unreliable indicator of underlying safety risk, especially on lower volume roads. These risk metrics were brought together and combined with a road safety improvements matrix to identify and assess the effectiveness of different infrastructure countermeasures on high risk parts of the network. This assessment showed an investment of $800 million could prevent around 160 people from being killed or seriously injured annually at a benefit to cost ratio of approximately 4. This work is now being embedded in national policy and funding processes to better support local authorities improve the delivery of road safety throughout New Zealand. This presentation will be of interest to all attendees at the Traffic Records Forum who are interested in learning how existing transport data can be used in conjunction with road safety knowledge to develop bespoke and evidence-based safety programs without the need to collect additional data.


Paul Durdin - is a Director of Abley Transportation Consultants Limited. He has 20 years’ experience in the field of traffic engineering and transportation planning where he has worked exclusively as a consultant in both New Zealand and Australia. Paul is a nationally recognised expert with specialist skills in the areas of road safety, strategic and integrated transport planning, and the development of best-practice guidance. Paul is a trusted technical adviser to state and local road-controlling authorities in New Zealand and Australia on road safety matters. development and delivery of a number of Safer Journeys initiatives and other road safety tools that will have a significant influence on the shape of road safety in New Zealand for many years to come.

 

 


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