Deaths Demonstrate the need for Median Barriers

Many recent road deaths would not have occurred on roads fitted with median barriers, says Clive Matthew-Wilson, Editor of

Matthew-Wilson, a outspoken road safety pundit says:

"Head-on collisions have caused multiple road deaths in the last fortnight. Median barriers are as close as we're going to get to a magic bullet that prevents road deaths. They’re proven, cheap and practical. Installing median barriers and roadside fencing should be the nation's top road safety priority."

"In the 1980s, there was one serious accident a week on Auckland’s harbour bridge. The authorities blamed bad driving, and wasted many years asking motorists to drive safely. The carnage continued."

"Eventually, a concrete median barrier was installed in the middle of the harbour bridge. Most of the serious accidents stopped immediately. There wasn’t one less idiot or drunk driver, yet the accidents stopped, simply because the road was changed in a way that prevented everyday mistakes from becoming fatalities."

This is exactly what we are experiencing as an industry. The NZ Road Transport industry can yell ‘its not our fault’ until we are red in the face, we can try to educate people how to behave safely around trucks and warn them of the dangers of driving recklessly on our windy roads. It may change a few minds but for an individual that has exhibited the same reckless driving behaviours for many years is unlikely to change. 

Along with our own population, a great number of our own population making mistakes on the road that end in tragedy, so are a large number of tourists. Despite calls for adequate tourist licensing, not much has been done. Licensing aside, these drivers are still not used to NZ roads and are liable to make mistakes. Simple things can be done to stop those mistakes ending in disaster.

Although what Matthew-Wilson has said in the past about the road transport industry, much of which is baseless, these kinds of solutions make sense for keeping our drivers, and the public, safe.

A study by Monash University of the effectiveness of roadside fencing and median barriers concluded that: “reductions of up to 90% in death and serious injury can be achieved, with no evidence of increased road trauma for motorcyclists.”

These are not costly initiatives to implement. What is costly is the slow lumbering bureaucratic process that the initiatives would need to go through to actually get done. If we want to do the best we can at improving our image as an industry, we should support any initiative to get median barriers put in where possible so less cars crash into our trucks.

As Matthew-Wilson says"For me, and the families of the recent victims, these upgrades can't come quick enough.". And I would add for the drivers of our trucks. They are the ones that must suffer the trauma of having to watch people die from one simple mistake.

10/3/18: German nationals Rebekka Maria Isenmann, 31, and Simon Daniel Schweizer, 35, died after their van collided with a truck in the central North Island.

10/3/18: German tourists Marlena Picht, 24, and Marc Damboldt, 30, died on Saturday when their people mover collided head-on with an oncoming truck just north of Kaeo.

12/3/18: 56-year-old Lynda Anne Bailey died in a crash between car and stock truck on State Highway 5 at Ngatira, north of Rotorua.

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