Southern crashes studied

Fraser McRae
Fraser McRae
Trying to find the root cause of road accidents is behind a $100,000 study being led by the Otago Regional Council.

The Regional Road Safety Strategy will cover Otago and Southland, as part of regional councils' responsibilities for planning safe transport systems.

Council policy, planning and resource management director Fraser McRae said it was hoped the strategy would enable transport funding to be used to fix the actual cause of ''black spots'', rather than the black spot itself, as was often done.

''It could have been because there was no warning sign of an intersection at the top of a hill or a large billboard distracted drivers.''

The Otago Regional Council is working with Environment Southland on the strategy to cover the area south of the Waitaki River, with results expected in about 12 months.

About 1.5 full-time equivalent staff were working on the project and had begun with an analysis of accident statistics, including hospital admissions caused by traffic accidents, he said.

''A lot of travel accidents which end up in hospital are not necessarily vehicle-related. They're pedestrian or cycle accidents.''

As a result, details on those accidents were not included in traffic accident statistics.

''If we want people to ride bikes and walk more, they should be able to be safe.''

It was hoped at the end of the work the councils would be able to provide data showing ''X percentage of accidents were a result of distraction, or mechanical failure'' or some other cause, he said.

Under the Land Transport Management Act and Public Transport Management Act, regional councils are responsible for planning affordable, safe, and integrated land transport systems in their region.

The Otago Regional Council has a transport budget of $5.7 million for 2013-14, plus New Zealand Transport Agency funding for public transport and planning of a similar amount.

The agency encouraged the council to do the safety work, he said.

However, the council had not budgeted for the project, which had contributed to a $169,000 blowout in the transport planning budget in the council's eighth-month financial review.

The council was seeking grant funding from the transport agency to pay for the work.


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