Saturday, December 31, 2011

If only the roads would stop killing people

Today on Stuff:

Two people are dead and a family of five are in hospital after a high-speed crash at a Kapiti black spot labelled a "killing ground" by a doctor who went to the scene.


Kapiti emergency services director Dr Chris Lane, who attended yesterday's crash and September's crash when Ms Thompson died, said something had to be done about the accident spot. "There can be no more dithering, a barrier has to go in.

"It's a proven killing ground and no more lives should be sacrificed. A barrier has to be erected straight away."

But how did this cruel stretch of road kill these people?

Wellington district road policing manager Inspector Peter Baird said the crash happened about 400 metres south of a passing lane. "A southbound motor vehicle has decided to overtake at the last minute on the passing lane." The driver had "squeezed" in and as a result lost control and hit the oncoming northbound vehicle, Mr Baird said.

Those damn roads!


Deborah said...

Well, yes, if only people would drive more carefully then no one would die at all.

But there is a huge problem with overcrowding on State Highway 1 from Levin down to Wellington. From memory, that road carries about 20,000 vehicles a day, and long stretches of it are just one lane in either direction, with limited passing lanes. Again from memory (as in, I read it somewhere once so it must be true), once a road is carrying between 8,000 and 12,000 vehicles a day, it should be upgraded to two lanes in either direction.

Reading the article in Stuff, it's fairly clear that the proximate cause of the accident is driver error. But it probably isn't the only cause of the accident.

Tinman said...

Funny, nowhere in the report does it tell how the road made the incompetent drive badly.

Rather than expensive barriers make all roads one lane with no marking at all (including at intersections).

I would add a 3" steel spike protruding from the steering wheel of all roadbound vehicles.

The roads would remarkably soon stop killing anyone.

Shane Ponting said...

It is wrong, where the accident is proved to be driver error to then say the road is fine, the road rules are fine and the road policing is fine.

And it's interesting that, this is not the case when it suits the agenda of the "road safety" industry. They are quite happy to justify any and all measures (usually profit-making or freedom-robbing ones) on the basis that driver error must be dealt with by adjusting the road, the road rules, and the road policing.

However usually the road itself is looked at last because building a safer road doesn't make nearly as much money as sticking a cash register at the end of the passing lane or create the politic payoff that introducing ever more draconian roading laws ends to do.

I for one, am all for a road engineering response to accident prone areas as the primary measure. You can't wipe out on the corner if you remove the corner, it's harder to run out of passing lane if you four-lane the road to a credible length (i.e. a proper segment), and speed limits that sit on or just above the 85th percentile thus achieving the narrowest distribution curve - reduce the need for passing in the first place.

Psycho Milt said...

Deborah: I agree re the overcrowding, it inevitably results in excess-testosterone types taking stupid risks. SH1 should be motorway from Wellington to Levin, but these days building motorways seems to be regarded as a civic crime on a par with mining the conservation estate, so it's hard to picture it happening.

However, road engineering only alters the nature of the crashes. In Germany they have beautiful motorways and drivers whose training is mind-bogglingly rigorous and comprehensive by NZ standards, but they have big signs in fog-prone areas saying "Sicht weg? Gas weg!" (Can't see? Slow down!), and dozen-car pile-ups are nothing unusual due to drivers not maintaining following distances.

In the case of this road, there's nothing unusual about it and the recent crashes are presumably a statistical anomaly - of three crashes on it, one involved an idiot driving well over 100k through a winding stretch with an 80k limit, this latest one involved someone failing to use a passing lane correctly, and the third one involved someone crossing the centre line for an unknown reason. There's no pattern involving the road layout.

Anonymous said...

You can't really compare it to Germany. The gene pool is completely different.

baxter said...

It is a real bastard of a stretch with constant traffic from Otaihanga and Southwards Motor Museum complex emerging onto the two lane main highway. I hate it,hazardsin all directions.


PM, great to see you support better roads.
I think it is planned for 4-lane expressway towards Levin.
Let us hope the expressway is extended to Palmerston North.
We might need a few more terms of National governments for that.
And GNats with balls, free of Green Party influences.
I am pleased to see many new roads springing up in the Waikato too.
They are most certainly needed and the sooner Cambridge is bypassed, the better.

Mort said...

So you ascribe to the theory that guns don't kill, people do then PM?
I agree with you, but in the case of NZ toll statistics, it has been improvements in the roads, and the standard of cars in general that have improved the overall statistics; personally I would rather see the subsidies that go to trains be used instead for the benefit of those people who actually pay them, the motorist (via their RUCs) and have the necessary corrections made for known black spots.

Anonymous said...

If the road is at fault, how com tens of thousands of vehicles travel is without a problem?

Whether it is at this site or elesewhere, most vehicle accidents are a consequence of driver error - inattention, alcohol consumption, speed etc.

Psycho Milt said...

So you ascribe to the theory that guns don't kill, people do then PM?

Of course. Guns don't kill anyone unless some dumbass pulls the trigger - which is an excellent reason to minimise the number of dumbasses carrying them around.

DigiSlidz said...

See we are now all going to be punished for this. No passing lanes now from south of Paraparumu to north of Waikanae and 80 km/h from Paraparaumu to Waikanae.

ZenTiger said...

Better road design can help compensate for stupid, tired, or excessively risk taking drivers, which at least saves the poor people going in the other direction. That area is a crash area, let's make it safer.

Also, it's called a "State Highway", but it's nothing more than a narrow road with no median strips or barriers that is required to carry 20000 or more cars and trucks a day.

Upgrade it to the quality of a decent state highway and maybe we'd get less crashes and less wasted lives.