road safety

Blog Archives

Holden Street Smart programme

New national road safety programme participant Holly Williams and Mother Deirdre.

Holden has launched a new road safety programme designed for young drivers, with the goal of reducing accidents and fatalities.

“We wanted to develop a practical course that provides real-world driving experience using internationally proven methods.”

“Statistics tell us that fatal crashes where the driver’s contribution is significant are more likely to involve drivers under 24 years.  A lack of experience and awareness results in poor decision making on the roads and we believe this new programme can help address this area of concern,” says Holden spokesperson Marnie Samphier.

The programme is designed to address specific challenges for young drivers.

“It is sometimes assumed that young driver accidents are predominantly drug and alcohol related, this is an issue, but 60 per cent of all fatal crashes involving this age group do not feature either of these contributing factors.”

Greg Murphy with Holden Street Smart participants.

Champion motorsport driver and passionate road-safety advocate, Greg Murphy, has been heavily involved in developing the programme, and will feature in the promotion and awareness-raising activities.

Internationally renowned road safety expert, New Zealander Peter Sheppard, was also instrumental in devising best-practice activities to be incorporated as part of the Holden Street Smart programme.

The day-long Holden Street Smart programme runs during school holidays in a controlled environment away from the open road and other motorists. Participants experience a variety of scenarios and situations as they transition through 10 practical stations in their own car, accompanied by their parent or caregiver. 

Specific exercises as part of the day-long course include:

  • Head On Collison
  • Following Too Close
  • Emergency Braking
  • Peripheral Vision
  • Hazard Identification.

The course will be available in controlled environments throughout the country, and will be priced at $49. More information is available at: 
Or email the programme at:

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Work underway to prevent crashes

Work has now started on safety improvements which aim to prevent people being killed or seriously injured on State Highway 33 from the Te Ngae Junction to Paengaroa.

The initiatives range from a wider centerline which will reduce head-on crashes, flexible roadside safety barriers and road shoulders will be widened near Paengaroa to help drivers recover if they veer off the road.

The NZ Transport Agency’s Director Safety and Environment, Harry Wilson, says this work is the first stage in a larger project aimed at preventing simple mistakes resulting in people being killed or seriously injured.

“Sixteen people have died and 46 have been seriously injured on this stretch of road between Te Ngae junction and Paengaroa from 2006 and 2015. Most of these crashes were head-on or involved drivers running off the road and hitting trees, poles or deep ditches.

“We’ve talked to the community about how we can make this road safer, and we’re making these changes based on what they’ve told us as well as our research. The route is 34km long with some tricky terrain so that’s why it will be finished in three stages. The first stage is the easiest to complete and we hope to start on stage two next year and stage three in 2019,” Mr Wilson says.

Work will stop during the state highway works moratorium period in December/January. At times, a temporary speed limit will be in place with warning signs to advise drivers that the works are in progress.

Work is expected to be completed by early 2018, weather permitting.

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2017 car safety guide released

AA has published their User Car Safety Ratings guide, updated for 2017.

Released today, the guide is the result of in-depth analysis by the Monash University Accident Research Centre (MUARC) of real-world crash data collected in both New Zealand and Australia.

The guide is updated annually and now provides safety ratings on 279 used vehicles built between 1986 and 2015. This year, it lists 106 of them as good or excellent, and a further 113 are categorised as poor or very poor. 60 are considered marginal.

Ahead of the general election on 23 September, the AA is calling for vehicle safety information to be provided at the point of sale, similar to fuel economy information already available.

The Ford Mondeo is one of the AA’s picks for superior safety features.

AA Motoring Services general manager Stella Stocks says New Zealand has a huge second-hand car market, and that the average age of used imports is increasing.

“This means the gap between the safety performance of used and new cars is widening.”

Stocks says that for many motorists the safety difference between cars is not immediately apparent, and there are important distinctions that consumer should have easy access to.

“Motorists, especially people buying cars for the first time, can easily be overwhelmed by what is available and can find it difficult to work out which factors they should consider most.”

Many of the poorest performing vehicles are often driven by novice drivers who are more likely to be involved in a crash.

Ministry of Transport data shows younger drivers are seven times more likely to crash than those with more experience behind the wheel.

Ms Stocks says while younger drivers will often have more modest budgets, they need the best protection.

“The guide shows which cars are the safest across all categories, which is why we want the information available at the point of sale. It enables buyers to consider safety performance of one vehicle against another before they get behind the wheel.

“Buyers can’t make the right choice without the right information.”

New car crash test results are provided by the Australasian New Car Assessment Programme (ANCAP).

The work conducted by MUARC show that a driver of the worst-rated vehicle is more than 10 times as likely to be killed or seriously injured in the same crash as a driver in the best-rated vehicle.

Used Car Safety Ratings can be found on the AA’s website.

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VW vans to include AEB

Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles has announced it will fit all its vans with autonomous emergency braking, which are now available as standard on current Caddy, Transporter and Crafter models.

The system, dubbed Front Assist by VW, recognises dangerous distances to the vehicle in front and helps to ensure safe stopping. In dangerous situations, it will first warn the driver of on-road hazards, and brake the car if there is no response.

The system also includes City Emergency Braking, which assists the vehicle at speeds below 30km/hr and will reduce speed, apply the brakes and even steer the car as needed.

Peter Shaw, CEO at Thatcham Research, said, “Volkswagen is a trailblazer and should be applauded for being the first manufacturer to fit AEB as standard on all its vans in the UK.  The truth is that we are seeing a year on year rise in deaths and serious injuries involving vans which this technology can help to avoid.”

According to Thatcham Research, autonomous emergency braking systems are “probably the most significant development in vehicle safety since the seat belt” and could potentially save over a thousand lives in the next decade.

“Producing safe, reliable vans has been at the heart of our brand for over 60 years. But technology is advancing at a pace and we’re continually seeing more and better ways to keep drivers safe on the road,” said Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles’ head of marketing, Sarah Cox.

Volkswagen’s commercial vans are sold in modest quantities in New Zealand. Last month, 18 new Caddy units were sold, and two Transporters. The most popular van model was the T6, with 28 sales, which will come with Front Assist in future generations.

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Major safety award for Volvo engineers

Safety experts Per Lenhoff and Magdalena Lindman

Two traffic engineers who developed safety technology used by hundreds of Kiwi drivers have been recognised for their contribution to improving traffic safety and reducing fatalities with a major award.

Per Lenhoff, senior manager, and Magdalena Lindman, technical expert in Traffic Safety Data Analysis, both work at the Volvo cars safety centre, one of the most advanced testing facilities in the industry.

The pair have been honoured by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for their contribution to enhanced traffic safety.

The range of systems they have developed over the years include run-off road occupant protection and both physical and CAE (Computer Aided Engineering) test methods that capture and replicate real-life crashes.

Volvo Cars’ New Zealand general manager Coby Duggan says the safety systems developed by Lenhoff and Lindman have been installed on hundreds of Volvo’s driven on New Zealand roads. Volvo has been collecting data from thousands of real-life accidents since 1970 to better understand and address safety needs, he said.

Duggan said their latest technological achievements will be launched in New Zealand later this year inside the new XC60, which will have one of the highest levels of advanced driver assistance features and steering support systems as standard on the market.

“With their advances in autonomous driving technology, we are entering a new generation of safety for all road users,” he said.

“With each new model introduced by Volvo we get closer to our goal that no one should be killed or seriously injured in a new Volvo by 2020 – the technology onboard the new XC60 will be the latest step towards this objective.”

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Walsh elected to CITA Bureau Permanent

Mike Walsh at the CITA general assembly

VTNZ chief executive officer Mike Walsh has been voted onto the Bureau Permanent of the International Motor Vehicle Inspection Committee (CITA) during its 18th general assembly in Croatia.

CITA, a not-for-profit based in Belgium, is made up of members from around the world in various vehicle safety organisations.

The committee’s main purpose is to improve road safety and protect the environment throughout the world by exchanging information and experience among its members.

“I firmly believe that periodic technical inspections contribute significantly to road safety for all road users,” Walsh said in his tender for Bureau Permanent. “It is important that we, as CITA members, work collaboratively together to ensure standards are upheld and safety benefits are understood and valued by national governments and regulatory bodies.”

CITA also promotes and coordinates studies to help improve vehicle inspections, and New Zealand members include Vehicle Testing New Zealand (VTNZ), Vehicle Inspection New Zealand (VINZ) and the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA).

Walsh has had a long history with the auto industry in New Zealand. Before his 13-year tenure as CEO of VTNZ, he worked as a company director and retail operations manager for Mobil, where he began working in 1986.

The theme at this year’s CITA general assembly is “Partnering to Improve Road Safety and the Environment,” and the event will include seven different split sessions.

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WHO urges global car safety effort

World Health Organization ambassador Michael Bloomberg has urged car makers and governments around the world to increase their commitment to car safety in developing countries ahead of the 25th International Technical Conference on the Enhanced Safety of Vehicles in Detroit.

“Around the world, road crashes kill an estimated 1.3 million people each year and injure up to 50 million,” Bloomberg said.

“Automakers — including U.S. and European companies — routinely sell cars without many of the basic safety protections that are standard here at home. Often, they are sold without airbags or electronic stability systems.”

The World Health Organization has said that 90 per cent of crash fatalities occur in low- and- middle income countries, and projects that 40,000 lives could be saved in Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Mexico by 2030 if minimum safety standards are followed.

However, car makers in the US and Europe have been producing vehicles for low-income markets without airbags and other basic safety features, claiming that omitting the extra features keep the vehicles affordable.

“Meeting those standards is not expensive,” Bloomberg said. “The difference in building a car to the highest or lowest safety ratings can be as small as a couple hundred dollars.”

Of the 10 top-selling vehicle models in Mexico, four have a safety rating of zero stars, meaning a passenger is not likely to survive a crash. One such model is the American-manufactured Chevy Spark, which has the highest safety rating available in the US.

The NZ Ford Mustang lacks safety features found in overseas models

Several US and European-made vehicles have also arrived in the New Zealand market missing safety features and driver assistance technologies recently, including the highly-anticipated Ford Mustang, which launched in New Zealand late last year.

The muscle car received top ratings from the American National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), but received a two-star safety rating from Australasian watchdog ANCAP. 

“Ford recently unveiled its newest models in the United States, which appear to have more safety assist and crash prevention technology on board, but they’re not expected in New Zealand until the end of the next year,” AA general manager Stella Stocks said in January.

“Also, we won’t know what will be included on the New Zealand models yet.”

The latest Toyota Prius, released last year, also lacked additional AEB technology found in American and European models.

“While it’s understandable that manufacturers want to keep the price down, we urge them not to undervalue New Zealanders or their safety and want to see the same safety features available overseas offered here,” said NZ Automobile Association’s network support manager, Philip Collings, said last October.

“Foreign consumers who think that all cars manufactured by General Motors are built according to U.S. safety standards are tragically mistaken,” Bloomberg said. “It demands an urgent response.”

“Automakers should make voluntary commitments that all of their cars swiftly reach or exceed the safety standards adopted by the United Nations.”

“At the same time, governments should create and enforce better vehicle safety standards.”

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Waikato Uni teams up with drive tech firm

The University of Waikato and eDrive Solutions (trading as Fleetcoach) have partnered to further develop an interactive online driving programme.

eDrive and Fleetcoach work in different markets; eDrive is targeted at learner drivers, and Fleetcoach is a work tool for organisations to educate their staff.

Associate professor Robert Isler, director of the traffic and road safety (TARS) research group at the University of Waikato, is the head of research at eDrive solutions, and has spend more than 30 years researching safe and effective driver training.

Chief operating officer at Fleetcoach Craig Cockerton says the partnership with the University will strengthen the research capabilities of eDrive Solutions and improve existing technology.

“We are excited to have entered a partnership with the University of Waikato. Research underpins this relationship, and provides the foundation on which the Fleetcoach online driver training was built,” he said.

The training programme uses video-based simulation to train high-level driving skills, which Cockerton sais are transferable to on-road driving and is proven to reduce crash risk..

Senior deputy vice-chancellor at the University of Waikato, Professor Alister Jones, said the partnership cements the university’s position as a leader in traffic and road safety research.

“We have an international reputation in this area, and it makes good sense to work with others to build on the research we’ve been doing for a number of years. This research influences road safety policy and road safety; it’s research that makes a big difference,” he said.

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Road safety week begins

Following on from a record low of 253 deaths in 2013 there have been three years in a row of increasing road deaths and the first four months of 2017 have continued that tragic trend.


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Northland to review roading plan

A required three-year review into Northland’s broader transport plan has begun.

The Regional Land Transport Plan from 2015-2021 examines local roading projects proposed by the region’s three district council, state highway projects and strategic projects and public transport issues addressed by the Northland Regional Council.

Regional councillor John Bain, who chairs the Northland Regional Transport Committee, says the review is a legal requirement. This particular review will determine whether the region’s land transport problems have changed significantly in the past three years.

“It will also ascertain if there are any new large roading projects that may need to be included in the plan,” Bain said.

“Over the coming months, the review process will involve a tremendous deal of support and input from our partner organisations; the three district councils, NZTA as the state highway and national road funding body and the New Zealand Police.”

Many Northland roads are in significant need of development. Approximately 3000km of roads remain unsealed, and the numerous one-lane bridges scattered throughout the region became a point of political debate in the 2015 by-election.

Towns such as Paihia, Whangarei and Kerikeri have become popular tourist destinations for locals, particularly Aucklanders, and international tourists, and the roading system is struggling to cope with demand. 

With the Northland Port taking on more cargo, the recent addition of further freight trucks onto the roads had created further strain, with local and national funding stretched.

The use of heavy trucks on unsealed roads has become a major concern for locals in Pipiwai, who cite the constant dust as a major health hazard. In February, the government agreed to seal the dangerous road, but other roads in the region remain unattended.

“We’re still faced with securing regional route resilience and security, addressing dust from unsealed roads, striving to reduce the region’s poor road safety record and a continuing increase in the number of heavy vehicles on our roads,” Bain said.

He expects more large-scale projects to be included in the latest review, which will then be released for public consultation “later this year.”

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1700 students to attend Otago road safety expo

The Survivor 2020 Safer Journeys Expo kicks off tomorrow in Dunedin, aimed at educating around 1600 year 11 students across Otago on road safety.

“The expo aims to make young people more aware of how to stay safe while driving,” said Dunedin City Council road safety advisor Deborah Palmer.

“Students will take away a toolkit of strategies to help them make good choices for themselves and their friends on the road. Ultimately, we want them to be able to ‘make the right call’ and save lives.”

The yearly road toll has been slowly increasing in Otago over the last six years. 20 people were killed on roads in the region last year, up from 11 in 2009, but well down on the all-time high of 43 in 1988. Road deaths among young drivers, however, declined nine per cent last year, according to Ministry of Transport figures.

The expo will include a crash scenario and seminars about about modified vehicles, speed, alcohol, road safety and the human cost of crashes. 

Around 50 staff from the Dunedin City Council, Waitaki District Council, emergency services, the Dunedin Hospital Emergency Department and the New Zealand Transport Agency. Crash survivors, family and Victim Support will be on hand to instruct and inform students.

The annual expo began in 2007 and was initially designed by the DARE Foundation of New Zealand, and various iterations of the expo are held around the country annually.

The Survivor 2020 Safer Journeys Expo is funded by the Transport Agency and co-ordinated by the Dunedin City Council and Waitaki District Council.

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