Road safety is a focus area of the 2015–18 National Land Transport Programme. It supports a sector-wide focus on creating a transport system increasingly free from death and serious injury.

Over the next three years, $3.2bn is being invested in road safety, which is around 23% of the total programme. This equates to an increased investment in safety of $550m compared to 2012–15.

The investment gives effect to the Government Policy Statement to improve road safety, embed the Safe System approach, and reduce deaths and serious injuries.

Improving safety across all four parts of the system – roads and roadsides, speeds, road use, and vehicles – is at the heart of the NZ Transport Agency’s commitment to reducing road trauma. The focus is on creating a more forgiving road system, where making a mistake on the road should not cost a life or cause serious injury.

Since 2009, the number of people killed or seriously injured, measured in terms of per kilometre travelled, has reduced significantly, albeit with some annual variations. This means there is a lower average personal risk of being killed, or seriously injured, while using our land transport networks.

To maintain the rate of progress, investment in the 2015–18 NLTP continues across all four parts of the Safe System targeted at risk. Many investment proposals work across multiple aspects.

Persons killed or seriously injured per 100 million vehicle kilometres

Safer speeds that are right for the road

Managing speed on the network continues to be a priority for the Transport Agency for 2015–18. The speeds people travel at are not always appropriate for the design, purpose and safety level of many of our roads.

Small reductions in speed can make a big difference. By 2019, the Transport Agency aims to reduce the number of serious injuries and deaths on high-risk roads by 135 (10%) and reduce social costs by $130m.

Encouraging safer road use

Road safety promotion

Road safety promotion programmes complement investment in infrastructure, regulatory change and road policing. They target road user behaviour through a range of approaches – incorporating education, promotion and advertising.

During the 2015–18 NLTP, $132m will be invested in road safety promotion activities, $67m in national activities by the Transport Agency and the balance, $65m, in local activities delivered by councils throughout the country.

NZ Police

The recommended allocation for road policing has increased by 6% to $960m in 2015–18. The programme is intended to give NZ Police greater flexibility to target resources to road safety risk. For 2015/16, $313m has been approved to target priorities.

The NZ Police programme gives priority to speed, alcohol and drug-impaired driving, restraints, high-risk drivers and dangerous driving, in line with the Safe System approach.

Building and maintaining safer roads and roadsides

The Transport Agency is continuing to implement road and roadside improvements initiated in the previous Safer Journeys action plans, including high-risk intersections and rural roads.

State highways

A total of $1.3bn will be invested in improvements and maintenance.

Targeted investment is needed to make tangible safety gains. One example is the South Auckland to Tauranga via Waihi journey, which will have 67% of its investment targeting a reduction of 60 serious injuries and deaths within the next decade. The Whangarei to North Auckland journey will have 52% of its investment directed at safety benefits.

The regional improvements activity class invests in important roads outside the major urban areas to deliver better access to markets, improved resilience and a significant range of safety work. Of the $225m planned investment, 46% is targeted towards the delivery of safety benefits translating to 92 fewer serious injuries and deaths over 10 years.

Local roads

Local authorities will be co-investing in around $4bn of local road maintenance and improvements with the Transport Agency.

Safer journeys for cyclists

The 2015–18 NLTP will see around $251m invested in cycling and walking, including funding from the Urban Cycleways Programme. It is estimated that between $350m and $400m will be invested in cycling in the three years to 2018. This also includes investment in cycling and walking facilities incorporated in state highway and local road projects, as well as projects outside the NLTP, such as the New Zealand Cycle Trail. This is aimed at improving walking and cycling infrastructure (both urban and rural) and support programmes such as cycle skills training, national guidelines for cycling infrastructure design and public education campaigns to promote sharing the road safely. The key recommendations of the Cycling Safety Panel Report from 2014 are embedded in this work.

Encouraging safer vehicles

The 2015–18 NLTP will continue to fund two national road safety promotion campaigns related to safer vehicles.

Rightcar(external link)  encourages buyers to choose safer and more economical cars. A car with better safety features can reduce the risk of being in a crash and improve the chance of surviving one.

The ‘Check your car’ campaign encourages people to check their vehicles on a regular basis and seek expert advice if they are concerned about anything. The campaign focuses on simple steps vehicle owners can take to ensure their car is as safe as it can be.

NZ Police will continue with warrant of fitness and certificate of fitness enforcement as part of other activities.

Case studies

Working together for better communities

If there’s one place in New Zealand where you don’t want to rush, it’s through Lake Tekapo / Takapō in the Mackenzie District.

Safer heavy vehicles, safer journeys for everyone

Our vision is an Aotearoa New Zealand where no one is killed or seriously injured on our roads, and the Commercial Vehicle Safety Programme is one way we're doing that. It creates a level playing field for the heavy vehicle industry, improves efficiency for operators and - most importantly - it makes the roads safer for everyone. Find out how Waka Kotahi and NZ Police are working together to make our heavy vehicle fleet, and New Zealand's roading network, safer.

Uncovering what lies beneath State Highway 35

The geology of the East Coast is challenging. The rock is soft, unstable and full of water which affects the stability of the road. The slopes can’t always be stabilised with engineering only, so we need to engineer solutions that work with the environment to ensure the most robust roads possible. But before we do that, we need to go deep underground to discover what lies beneath.

A safer road between Kāpiti and Horowhenua

We’re working to make travel from Ōtaki to north of Levin safer, more resilient and increasing the transport choices for a growing population. With work on a new highway planned to begin in 2025, there’s lots of work still to do!

How do you improve one of New Zealand’s most beautiful roads?

Journeys along State Highway 43, the Forgotten World Highway, are now safer and easier. The first stage of sealing work through the Tāngarākau Gorge is complete. That means safer journeys for locals and encourage many more people to experience the beauty of SH43. The project, funded by Kānoa – Regional Economic Development and Investment Unit, is replacing the unsealed section of State Highway 43 with chip-seal to make the road safer and more reliable. Better, safer, more reliable journeys along one of New Zealand's most stunning roads.

Exploring Te Ara ki Uta ki Tai – Glen Innes to Tāmaki Drive shared path

A new shared path for people walking and on bikes just dropped in Auckland’s Eastern suburbs! Section 2 of the Glen Innes to Tāmaki Drive between St Johns Road to Ōrākei Basin closes the gap between two already open sections of pathway. When using this path, you can get a true sense of what the finished path, aptly named ‘Te Ara Ki Uta Ki Tai’ (the path of land and sea) will deliver, including stunning views through Pourewa Valley, over the Eastern rail line and through the Ōrākei Basin. Grab your wheels and come and check it out for yourself!

Smashing job! Demolishing the Park Estate Bridge

The team were crushing it overnight on the SH1 Papakura to Drury project on Saturday 21 May 2022! Following months of planning and preparation, the old Park Estate Road bridge was successfully demolished overnight during an extended 14-hour full closure of Auckland’s Southern Motorway between Papakura and Drury. The bridge demolition and clean up all went according to plan and the motorway reopened two hours ahead of schedule on the Sunday morning. This milestone having been achieved, the way is now clear for the team to start building the second half of the replacement bridge in the gap created.

Ōtaki to north of Levin – Gioja Townshend‘s story

Kuku resident Gioja Townshend has lived next to SH1 for 17 years and welcomes safety improvements on SH1. Gioja says while this investment in safety is positive news, the decision to continue building the new highway will make an even bigger difference.

Raising the standard for intersection safety

In 2019, Waka Kotahi partnered with the Hamilton City Council (HCC) to deliver New Zealand’s first raised safety platform at the Thomas and Gordonton Road intersection in Hamilton.