Monday, October 5, 2009

Accident Blackspots

This is what a few of NZ's more infamous and unforgiving black spots look like. They can take both visitors and local residents by surprise.

State Highway 2 near the Red Fox Tavern at Maramarua - "a spot notorious for serious crashes," called the "unforgiving highway" where least 40 people died in the five years to 2005. See also Children face highway to hell

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Goose Bay, Cantebury. Notorious for truck accidents -as many as 20 truck crashes happened here every year.

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Glenda Drive/ SH6 intersection near Frankton. Named as a "death trap" is now due for a $4million upgrade

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SH1 near Ohingaiti is a "notorious piece of road" and a "well known trouble spot". Work was already underway to straighten the bend, but not soon enough for the last driver to crash here when a car crossed the centre line and crashed head on into another

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Junction of Jackson's Road and Old Renwick Road, Marlborough. The intersection is dangerous because trees on its southwestern corner block views of approaching vehicles.

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Dome Valley, north of Auckland hs claimed at least 19 lives since 2001, the Warkworth to Wellsford stretch of road is ranked the 5th most dangerous in the country.

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SH2 near Te Puke has been called one of the country's most dangerous roads, notorious for being "dark and dangerous"

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Numerous accidents occured at around the Petone Esplanade / Horokiwi turnoff.

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State Highway 2 from the bottom of the Bombay Hills to Mangatarata, called a "killer road"

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Centennial Highway between Paekakariki and Pukerua Bay a "notorious accident blackspot"

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Stretches of State Highway 2 near Mangatawwhiri are also a "notorious accident blackspot"

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Cable Bay Road / SH6 Intersection in Nelson described as "a notorious accident blackspot"

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The 'Notorious Akerama Bends', Coroner Brandt Shortland - conducted an inquest into the deaths of two Korean tourists at the Akerama Bends in September 2007 - called on roading authorities to straighten the S-bend or put up clear warning signs. (no street view available)

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There are many theories explaining the shockingly high death and injury rates on New Zealand's roads. Whilst the young driving age and drink-driving plays a not inconsiderable part there are some locations where road design and layout are so unforgiving that the smallest driver error could potentially result in disaster.

According to the AA

* New Zealand's Road Safety to 2010 strategy forecasts that 42 lives a year could be saved by improvements in road engineering.
* Installing rumble strips on roads can reduce crashes by up to 27% by preventing run-off-road and head-on collisions.
* Installing a barrier along an embankment can reduce run-off-road casualty crashes by as much as 45%.

KiwiRAP (NZ Road Assessment Programme) gives safety rating figures for a number of NZ's roads, this is a table showing the ranking for roads on the basis of high collective risk (click for a larger image)

Further information may be found here: KiwiRAP risk tables


  1. As a car and motorbike rider, here's my comments/rant below but first let me say that NZ is a lovely place to ride a motorbike as there are some lovely empty roads with few cars through some stunning scenery. Although older road design and construction isn't great I do think they fix potholes and damaged roads quite quickly. Also as a motorcyclist we are allowed to lane split (much to the ire of many motorists lol) but that is great news for bikers. Having said that, read on as this is my first hand experience ...
    1. Shocking "hillbilly" driver attitudes of lane hogging fast lanes even though it's prohibited in the NZTA road code. My theory is that a big contributor is that old and fearful drivers feel a lot safer in the centre lane over Auckland bridge and so edge to the centre early on. Also, NZ's attitudes to driving as with so many other things have simply not kept pace with new trends and the ever increasing foreign migrants and tourists who keep coming to NZ.
    2. Sorry to profile but certain asian drivers are absolutely scarily schocking. As it is too PC to talk openly (everyone jokes privately) it is simply not addressed for fear of upsetting NZ's major big brother, China. I can spot an Asian driver a mile off in my car or bike and am probably only ever wrong about 2% of the time when it turns out to be an elderly driver. This isn't a racist response it is just now a natural safety mechanism.
    3. Cyclists - despite not contributing a cent to the road costs cyclists are somehow untouchable and even if they commit shocking road habits will rarely be prosecuted or worse assumed innocent. Added to this attitude is an official picture that NZ is cycle friendly which it is not! It is more dangerous to cycle than motorbike. I have nothing against most cyclists but in NZ sadly they have a snobbish attitude that they have first priority and all other road users are lucky to share the road. I think it is grossly irresponsible to sell NZ as a cycle haven and have seen an Asian cyclist runb off the road on the South Island by a truck, thankfuully unharmed. Actually the truck was polite and gave a wide berth when passing but then a car came around the corner in the opposit direction and the truck had to either stop (never happening) or ease back to its side of the road which it did. I also recently met 2 young tourists cycling NZ (not together) and in chatting realised there is no way to cycle through Auckland unless taking a wide detour. Basically the powers that be simply have no clue and obviously have never been to Zurich or Amsterdam to see how it's already been down with thousands of bikes everywhere.

  2. 3. Speed - the authorities know only one mantra as a catch all for every road issue, namely SPEED! They will take a stunning road and make it slower than usual due to "high crashes" and you have to say to yourself that only an idiot would crash in a single lane relatively straight road! So imagine the traffic jam on any holiday! Likewise, if speed was the major cause of issues and the public believed it then governments would simply ban fast cars or force car companies to put limiters on them like motorbikes.
    4. Bridges - somewhere long ago road designers decided that the safest thing to do with a bridge is make it as narrow as possible so that no pedestrians can fit and a truck and car approaching each other would be critically dangerous unless crawling which never happens. Why? Who knows? This shows the sleepy mindset of the kiwi of yesteryear. So all across NZ there are dangerous "bridges".
    5. Trucks (Buses) - for some unknown reason NZ has hardly any rail so trucks and buses are the norm. Whilst the drivers may actually be very good (no comment from me) they are supposed to drive 10km below the speed limit but usually travel faster. Not that I see that as the issue itself but boy when you see how narrow some roads are it can be quite disconcerting as you know they could never stop quick enough if they have to.
    6. Road design - overall more recently constructed roads aren't too bad in my opinion and quite nice to drive/ride on but a lot of older roads seem to have been designed by formula one circuit designers with sharp corners and terrible cambers which is awful on a motorbike as the centrifugal force drives you off the road. Weather also contributes to quite serious potholes or road sinking sometimes but I do think they are always fixed quickly in my opinion.

  3. 7. Property Developers - somehow Councils (especially Auckland) manage to grab exhorbitant development contributions from developers early on in the process, supposedly for infrastructure costs. All good until you see that the last thing they consider is roads. Roads around developments look like scrunched messes from heavily laden trucks and often a development has no added road upgrades so residents have to just put up with longer delays at clogged intersections.
    8. RTMS (Road Traffic Management Systems) - presumably people get degrees and call this a science but it results in the weirdest nonsensical decisions such as, when haveing a major event that will attract additional traffic, solve the problem by closing lanes. Logic and intuition say that this will increase pressure but RTMS says it will bring order. Go figure. And traffic lights controlling freeway entry basically move traffic jams off the motorway and backed up into residential areas where presumably it irritates moms just trying to navigate school traffic.
    9. I believe NZ police used to have seperate road cops but now police also wear same uniforms and don't look different. As few motorists "like" traffic cops, this has actually lowered the overall public respect of proper cops. This is just an aside comment.
    10. Ridiculous speed limits. As NZ infrastructure (and attitudes) has not coped with growth the speed limits are nonsense. Probably 85% of the population speed at least some of the time. 100 km/hr (110km with grace) is absurd in a modern vehicle and lifestyle. I have ridden behind a young girl at 120 km/hr riding safely out of Hamilton to Auckland but then encountered a driver doing under 100 km/hr but wholly distracted and a total danger!
    11. Crazy and inconsistent learner driver rules - a 15 year old (now 16) is able to get a restricted licence and then hop behind the wheel of a massively fast 2 litre skyline or evo. Contrast that with an adult who wants to get a motorbike licence and has to ride a restricted capacity bike for almost 2 years! Both are excessive in opposite extremes and show how far from reality the rules are now lagging.

  4. Thanks Arlem, much appreciated.

    We don't keep this blog up to date now, please could you visit the current site at

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