The Auckland Motorway Alliance (AMA) has won New Zealand’s premier road safety award with a simple but effective modification of traffic signals to stop motorists driving the wrong way on to Auckland motorways.
The 3M Traffic Safety Innovation Award for 2018, which recognises exemplary innovation and effectiveness to save lives and injuries on roads, was presented yesterday (22 March) at the Engineering NZ Transportation Group’s annual conference, attended by more than 150 of NZ’s transport professionals and advocates.
Transportation Group National Chairman, Alan Gregory said the AMA had demonstrated an effective and innovative approach to reducing the risk of wrong-way driving on the motorway network, which can cause deaths and serious injuries to road users and result in significant traffic congestion on the state highway.
"The AMA is being congratulated through this award for developing such an innovative and effective project, which could be applied to signalised intersections in other parts of the country or around the world,” Mr Gregory said.
The AMA is a formal alliance led by the NZ Transport Agency to operate and maintain Auckland’s motorway network.
The NZ Transport Agency’s System Manager Steve Mutton says it’s great to see our partners being recognised for their commitment to making the roads safer.
“They are stretching the boundaries and exploring all avenues in their approach to keeping people safe on our system.”
The traffic signals modification replaces the solid round green light with a green arrow where a turn is banned. This allows the removal of signs banning turns, reducing clutter. The approach is based on the principle of reinforcing to drivers expected behaviour, rather than telling motorists what they can’t do.
The change is in response to seeing motorists drive down off ramps before realising their mistake and retreating. More than 100 wrong-way drivers make it on to the motorway by mistake each year.
Test sites recorded a reduction in wrong-way driving of between 80-100% and the AMA is rolling out the improvement across the Auckland motorway network.
The 3M Traffic Safety Innovation Award is based on the Safe System approach. The Safe System approach aims for a more forgiving road system that takes human fallibility and vulnerability into account. Under a Safe System we design the whole transport system to protect people from death and serious injury.
Judges considered the specific features of the many projects submitted, particularly in terms of innovation in thinking and technology, problem-solving as well as the real benefits in reducing trauma. Cost-effectiveness and transferability to other areas were other key criteria.
Finalists for this hotly-contested award came from many areas of the transport profession.