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Draft plan to improve safety on State Highway 1 between the Selwyn River and Ashburton


Safety barriers down the middle of the road to stop head-on crashes, rumble strips to give drivers a wake-up call, and intersection improvements are among possible changes to a high-risk stretch of State Highway 1 between the Selwyn River and Ashburton in Mid-Canterbury.

The NZ Transport Agency has released a proposed plan designed to reduce death and serious injury crashes on the main highway south of Christchurch. They are encouraging people to have their say at one of three community drop-in events later in November.

Transport Agency System Manager Pete Connors says the project team will hold community events in Dunsandel, Ashburton and Rakaia on November 22, 23 and 24 to share information on the proposed safety improvements and get feedback.

“We have been investigating ways to make this road safer as too many people are being killed and seriously injured in crashes,” Mr Connors says.

“To make sure we get things right we asked people who use the road what makes this road feel unsafe and what worries them the most. We used this feedback, alongside our research, to shape this proposed plan.”

SH1 traffic

The proposed plan includes:

  • Installing flexible road safety barrier down the middle of the road to stop head-on crashes.
  • Adding turn-around areas at regular intervals to give local people in particular places to safely turn around.
  • Changing some intersections so there is no right turn in or out of side roads. This can help prevent side on (T-bone) crashes caused by drivers turning across the busy highway. This will also prevent drivers from crashing into the back of vehicles that are waiting to turn right, and vehicles stacking over the railway line while waiting to turn right.
  • Improving other intersections and adding right turning bays to make those intersections safer.
  • Installing sections of side barrier in high-risk locations (such as in front of a culvert or drain).
  • Laying rumble strips to give tired or distracted drivers a wake-up call if they stray across the line.
  • Improving road markings so they are easier to see at night and in wet weather.
  • Widening the centreline in places so there is more space between traffic travelling in opposite directions.
  • Instigating speed reviews at Dunsandel, Rakaia, Selwyn, Chertsey and across the Rakaia Bridge.


Mr Connors says 70 per cent of the deaths on the road are from head-on crashes.
“Installing flexible road safety barrier and turnaround bays along the route will make a real difference,” he says.

“Flexible road safety barriers ‘catch’ vehicles that leave their lane before they hit something less forgiving – like other vehicles or roadside hazards such as trees, poles and ditches.

“When a vehicle hits a barrier, the high-tension wire cables flex, slowing down the vehicle and keeping it upright during and after a collision. The barrier absorbs the impact, reducing the force on the people in the vehicle.”

The proposed plan is not final, and Mr Connors says the Transport Agency is looking for input from the public before the project team finalise the design and apply for construction funding.

“I would encourage people to attend one of these community events so they can have their say and understand how these proposed safety changes could affect the way they use the highway.”

People who are unable to attend one of the community events can find out more and have their say at or by emailing

Thursday, 22 November Dunsandel Community Centre
Tramway Road
3pm to 6pm
Friday 23 November Former Ashburton i-Site
East Street
10am to 1pm
Saturday 24 November The Salmon Reserve
Corner of SH1 and Elizabeth Street
11am to 2pm

People who are unable to attend one of the community events can find out more and have their say at or by emailing