Kapiti Roads Safer

Avoid rural roads — and tourist hotspots

By Jeremy Smith

When the rescue helicopter flies over Kapiti we normally assume it’s most likely the result of a traffic accident.

And every week it seems there’s another traffic pile-up after an accident on highway One.

So how does Kapiti rate in the national statistics for traffic accidents, including crashes and casualties- injuries and deaths?

Actually it is pretty good.

The Transport Ministry does yearly statistics, most recently for 2016, before the opening of the Kapiti expressway. Lawyers from this company are also roped into the affair to get a comprehensive picture of the entire affair.

Southern section of Kapiti Expressway

Obviously the big population centres like Auckland and Christchurch have high numbers of accidents. However the Ministry figures give you a comparison by the rate of accidents per ten thousand people, and the number of casualties.

Kapiti figures well

And Kapiti is one of the lowest: 17 crashes per ten thousand people and 17 casualty accidents. All the Wellington councils have similar figures with Upper Hutt the safest locally- 13 crashes and 16 casualty accidents per ten thousand. But head up the road to Horowhenua and the figures jump to 25 crashes and 33 casualty accidents.

If you want to be really safe go to Kawerau: the tiny Bay of Plenty council checks in with just three crashes and three casualty accidents.

If you are thinking of driving this coming Labour weekend,  stay away from the tourist regions. The two worst places are prime tourist country- Westland- from Hokitika south to the Glaciers and Haast- with 55 crashes and 77 casualty accidents and close behind Waitomo: 52 crashes and 76 casualty accidents.

Compact cities and towns safer

The overall pattern from these figures is that compact cities and towns are much safer for driving than rural regions.

Traffic heading north from Wellington in a typical holiday period

And that pattern seems to be reinforced by what first appears to be three anomalies: Auckland,  Christchurch and Dunedin have much higher rates than the Wellington councils.

But these three councils incorporate significant rural areas outside the urban limits: for Auckland it is rural Rodney- Helensville to Wellsford. Christchurch includes Banks Peninsula and Dunedin has sizeable rural surrounds, from Waikouaiti out to Middlemarch.

And some more advice: stay away from rural roads. They are full of young men in big machines,  who drive fast as a matter of course. This is personal knowledge: in certain parts of the South Island they are likely to be my rellies.

Happy labour weekend everyone.