New measures to reduce road injuries
25 September 2007
Innovative new roadside signs adopted by the Christchurch City Council will remind drivers to slow down at dangerous road hotspots.
Working closely with ACC, Council traffic engineers Vaughan Penney and Barry Rawlings researched products available on the market and will use an electronic sign which can detect the speed a motorist is travelling. The sign then flashes both this speed and a variable message telling the driver to slow down or change their driving behaviour.
“Research shows static signs warning drivers to slow down do not always do the trick,’’ says Mr Rawlings. “These new signs flash up the speed drivers are going and this grabs the driver’s attention and they automatically slow down. We know people can travel on autopilot and it doesn’t always register when they see a static sign, so this is a really effective way to make them take notice. It shocks them out of what they are doing and instinctively makes them take their foot off the accelerator,’’
Trials show people’s eyes are drawn to a flashing sign, even when they know it is there, says Mr Rawlings.
Two signs will be trialled before being rolled out throughout the city. One will be by PMH Hospital in Cashmere Road and the other on Centaurus Road near to the Hillsborough Terrace intersection.
Before and after studies will compare injury rates and signs will be left in place if they prove they can reduce these injuries.
“Signs will only be placed in places where analysis proves they are effective,’’ says Mr Rawlings. “Naturally we will not want them everywhere as this would reduce their impact.’’
The signs are cost-effective when compared with other traffic calming methods such as speed bumps and static signage. It is also very cost-effective if it prevents injuries.
ACC injury prevention consultant Kate Bussell says excessive speed and driving too fast for the conditions causes 30% of New Zealand’s road crashes. The total social cost of crashes involving drivers speeding was about $765 million which is approximately a quarter of the social cost associated with all injury crashes.
“Both ACC and the Council have been thinking along the same lines,’’ Miss Bussell says. This project was part of an already existing collaboration ACC has in partnership with Christchurch City Council, working towards preventing injury.
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