While overall road deaths and serious injuries declined in Auckland last year, the Hibiscus & Bays Local Board area bucked the trend, seeing the biggest increase in accidents causing injury or death in the region.
Key contributing factors where local crashes occurred include road engineering, loss of control by drivers, and speed.
Figures for 2018 released by Auckland Transport (AT) at the end of last month shocked local board members, showing that while Auckland-wide, the number of road deaths and serious injuries (DSI) dropped by 22 percent, locally there was an increase of 36 percent on the year before – with a total of 30 DSI reported by Police. Waitemata Local Board had the next largest increase, of 31 percent. In Rodney there was a 17 percent decrease but the number of deaths and serious injuries were much higher – 83 DSI in 2018 as opposed to 100 in 2017.
Local board chair Julia Parfitt is meeting senior AT safety staff this week to look more deeply into the implications of the data for this area.
“It’s really concerning, because people want to feel safe,” Mrs Parfitt says. “We want more information about where these accidents took place, how many were fatal, where the trouble spots are and what can be done to increase safety.”
The figures show that while the number of DSI in “vulnerable road users” –pedestrians, cyclists and motorbike riders – decreased slightly in 2018, it increased as an overall percentage; 47 percent of all DSI is now among this group, continuing a rising five-year trend. In Hibiscus & Bays, that figure is 48 percent – almost as many as the 52 percent who died or were seriously injured while travelling in vehicles.
More pedestrians and cyclists were hit as a result of drivers not giving way or not seeing them and there were more injuries among older road users, including pedestrians, drivers and cyclists. The AT report says its Speed Management Programme will improve survivability for vulnerable road users.
There was an increase in the number of people who died or were injured locally in head on crashes and accidents where the driver lost control of the vehicle.
On the positive side, the figures show that last year there were no deaths or serious injuries where drink or drugged driving was a key factor in Hibiscus & Bays, compared with three such incidents in 2017.
Waitemata North Police Area Commander Mark Fergus says while alcohol and other forms of impairment remain a significant contributor towards crashes, Police are seeing a reduction in the number of such crashes. “Here in Rodney we continue to focus on enforcement for impaired drivers,” he says.
“Everyone has a part to play, people make mistakes and are vulnerable, and every year the number of cars on the road increases,” Area Commander Mark Fergus says. “But if we wear restraints, drive to the conditions, don’t drive while impaired and avoid distractions we can absolutely make a difference.”
The majority of the accidents on the Coast in 2018 occurred during weekdays on 50kph arterial roads and not at intersections, although one local intersection – at Tavern Road/East Coast Road in Silverdale is identified as a high risk trouble spot in the report. Other high-risk local roads include Hibiscus Coast Highway and Whangaparaoa Road (Red Beach Road to 170m south of Vipond Road).
Some of the safety projects AT is considering for the Hibiscus and Bays Local Board area in the next year include improving signs and road markings on Whangaparaoa Road (Red Beach Road to Vipond) to help reduce loss of control crashes.
AT spokesperson Joanna Glasswell says AT is also planning to signalise the intersection of Tavern Road and East Coast Road in Silverdale to improve safety.
While AT announced an Auckland-wide safety focus on reducing speed limits towards the end of last year, the figures show that Police identified speed as a primary cause in just three local accidents, compared with eight the previous year. However, Mrs Glasswell says speed was a contributory factor in every crash.
Several town centres in Hibiscus and Bays are included in AT’s proposed Speed Limit Bylaw and there are suggested speed reductions on many Orewa roads (HM March 1). There were more than 11,000 pieces of feedback on the draft bylaw, which are currently being analysed.