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Government announces $1.4b plan to improve road safety

The government has today confirmed it will spend $1.4b on road safety improvements across New Zealand within the next three years.

Transport Minister Phil Twyford and Associate Transport Minister Julie Anne Genter said the Safe Network Programme will make 870km of our busiest roads safer.

The improvements will include median and side barriers as well as shoulder widening and rumble strips, with about half going on to highways and the other half going on local roads.

The two ministers said the improvements could prevent an estimated 16 deaths or serious injuries each year.

"Drivers will inevitably make mistakes and it's the government's job is to stop those mistakes turning into tragedies," Mr Twyford said.

"This year, far too many New Zealanders have lost their lives or been seriously injured in crashes that could have been prevented by road safety upgrades."

Ms Genter said no amount of death on our roads is acceptable.

"No other industry accepts hundreds of people dying each year as normal," she said.

"Annual road deaths in New Zealand increased from 253 just a few years ago in 2013, to 378 last year ... the number of serious injuries increased from 2,020 to 2,836 per year over the same period.

"No person I know thinks losing a loved one in a crash is an acceptable price to pay for living in a modern society – that's why we're making safety a priority.

"Local councils will be offered a higher level of central government funding to fix high-risk, local and regional roads.

"Over half of all fatal crashes happen on local roads and we recognise central government funding will help make these roads safer sooner."

The first of the projects is expected to being next year and is already in development.

Desert Road
Desert Road Source: istock.com