“The Highways Most Likely To Kill You”

If you’re planning on a short road trip or holiday to the Northland region here’s something that may help you plan your route.

The Northern Advocate has published a list of the regions worst roads, identified in an AA “KiwiRap”  survey (we mentioned the report here if you want to read more about it) saying:

“The most dangerous piece of road in Northland is a 22km stretch of highway in the Bay of Islands. A new study has revealed Northland’s deadliest roads are some of the most dangerous in the country

The study gave two stars to the 22km stretch of State Highway between Kawakawa and Paihia and identified it as the as the most hazardous in the region…

State Highway 14 from Whangarei to Dargaville also earned 2 stars as did SH11 from Puketona Junction to Paihia (ed. see street view below)

(and “Move junction to end deaths, locals say” – Northland’s most treacherous intersection)

Other to be blacklisted were some section of SH10 from Paihia to Kaitaia and SH12 between Kaikohe and Dargaville.

A continuous stretch of SH1 north of Whangarei also gained a 2 star rating

Inspector Clifford Paxton  said Northland roads were narrow, winding, undulating and very unforgiving. There were often little or no shoulders on the side of the road and plenty of obstacles that were killers including powerpoles, trees, ditches and steep banks.

“If you leave the road at 100km/h the chances of your survival are slim,” Mr Paxton said. read more here

We’ve often written about NZ’s dangerous roads, which claim (per head of population) twice as many lives a year as Britain’s, many of them visitors. The situation is so bad that the British Foreign and Commonwealth Offices has issued an advisory about the risks.

No roads in New Zealand achieved 5 stars in the KiwiRap survey and only 4% were awarded 4 stars. 39% were judged as 2 stars meaning they had major deficiencies such as poor alignment and roadside conditions.

Roads for which the entire length of highway was rated at the lowest safety rating of two stars included SH24 and SH39 in the Waikato, SH17 in Auckland, SH58 in Wellington, SH62 in Marlborough, SH71 in Canterbury, SH8B and SH88 in Otago, SH98 in Southland and SH67A on the West Coast.

In October of 2009 we blogged about some of the country’s blackspots, showing Google’s street views, so that drivers unfamiliar with NZ roads could learn to identify the hazards and take extra care. You can find it HERE,  or HERE

One particularly tragic death was that of Eva Kosanic, a 22 year old French student who lay undiscovered in her car for two days after it hit a tree and plunged down a bank in Broadwood, 48km south east of Kaitaia in Northland.  She had been driving to Auckland to catch a flight back to Christchurch where she was an intern at Environmental Science and Research, and was due to return to France in the near future.

When she died in October 2009 her death was the 25th on Northland’s roads that year.

Now that the list has been published it should shame local councils into upgrading some of the roads to make them safer. If they don’t they are morally responsible for every single death on them from now on.

See also:

Dangers seen in power poles close to road

NZ’s roads described as killing fields and posts tagged Dangerous Roads

2 thoughts on ““The Highways Most Likely To Kill You”

  1. Thanks, they sound horrendous! You must take your life in your hands every time you venture out. Can only imagine how bad it must be for cyclists – no wonder so many get killed or maimed.

    After this report we’ll be keeping a good look out for any “NZ has safe roads” advertising hype aimed at visitors, especially as so many of them are likely to be hiring vehicles during the RWC11.

  2. Ten road problems in New Zealand. Pay heed:

    1) the sides of the roads crumble, road bed is unstable, floods and lack of funding to fix roads further weaken this. Pull over too far to the edge if you need to – and it gives way. Just like everywhere in NZ, people “make do” in roadbuilding. Half-assed everything. They’re the Anti-Swiss. Nothing solid, nothing forethought.

    2) no or few broad shoulders on roads, so nowhere to go when someone is making a risky pass in opposite lane and heading right up the middle towards you

    3) roads are winding and extremely narrow lanes (!) (you feel like you are taking up more space than is allocated for a vehicle on half the road, you cannot see space on either side of your car!) with up and down hills and blind curves and marked for allowing passing only on short stretches not sufficient for actually getting a run-up of speed and passing more careful people (I don’t want to say slow), especially if you are passing someone who becomes angry that you are passing (Kiwi drivers are aggressive and tetchy) and speeds up to make it hard for you to pass – taking your life in your hands

    4) cars are in bad condition often, because it’s easy to patch them up to pass a WOF because of all the dodgy mechanics who do people favors etc, do not be fooled by the frequency of WOFs, it is just a way to make money and does not mean that the cars on the road are safer. Take your car to a different mechanic to get work double-checked and you risk vengeful action for “leaving the cartel”.

    5) difficult changing weather conditions with unpredictable storms that just blow up while you are driving and nowhere to pull over

    6) design of the roads and intersections is not well thought out and they do not use lights at junctions here. They use roundabouts instead, and only if they have to.

    7) many of the drivers are on substances. I gas up at convenience stores and know a few people who clerk at them, and can smell the reeking booze and burning organic substance on the drivers’ clothes as they walk in and out, so too many high and loaded drivers.

    8) cultural norm is to take a lot of risks (especially for the men). Their risk threshold is very high. Land of adrenaline junkies and extreme sports. Want an extreme sport? Go drive on their roads. You don’t need to flirt with uninspected half-rotted bungees! People take risks here that would put Darwin award winners to shame.

    9) caps on lawsuits so people are not even motivated to take due caution, were their cultural norms so inclined. The penal outcome of negligence and manslaughter, when no willful malicious behavior can be demonstrated, is nil. You cannot sue people here for anything and have it stick. They make it impossible. So everyone is encouraged to take risks because there are no hard-hitting consequences for not taking them.

    10) the sun glare is very bright, blindingly so, and sunglasses are not sufficient to prevent serious visual impairment at certain times of day. it hits you and you cannot see lines on road or edge of road for a stretch of time and have to guess where to steer. Very dangerous.

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