The Urban KiwiRAP trial is part of New Zealand’s Road Assessment Programme (KiwiRap). This programme operates in conjunction with the International Road Assessment Programme (IRAP), implemented by approximately 70 countries around the world. We were invited to join the KiwiRAP technical committee where we were charged with developing techniques for assessing risk along urban arterial routes. The goal was to create a system which would inform decision makers on where to focus resources and funds. With no standardised way of mapping risk across the network, one of the key challenges was determining how to compare safety in one area with safety in another.
We developed a process for reviewing past accidents and estimating the likelihood of serious incidents in the future. Traditional approaches to road safety had previously been ‘reactive’ ones (with resources poured into sites where accidents had previously taken place). We wanted to establish a ‘proactive’ approach, one that focused on recognising trends and taking action before those accidents occurred. To do this we mapped every road and every intersection in Auckland, Tauranga, Christchurch and Dunedin, then entered data relating to everything from traffic volume to road classifications, eventually establishing risk thresholds for establishing which parts of the network should be considered as high risk.
Each of the participating road controlling authorities in the Urban KiwiRAP trial has an interactive webviewer that shows the risk of every part of their network. Their viewer provides an objective basis for making smarter decisions about where to invest their resources. This ensures efforts are targeted at those parts of the network where the greatest reduction in future road trauma is likely to occur.