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Road Safety

Selwyn River to Ashburton Safety Improvements - NZ Transport Agency

​In December 2017, NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) invited the community to provide feedback on possible ways to improve road safety on State Highway One between Rakaia and Ashburton (the project includes the Highway north of Dunsandel to the Selwyn River Bridge). They asked what makes this road feel unsafe and what worries people the most.

NZTA have now released a feedback summary detailing what the community said about that stretch of road. You can view the summary here.​​​​​


At all intersections check, and check again.

43 per cent of all crashes in Ashburton District occur at intersections. Between 2012 - 2016, 361 crashes occurred at intersections in the district. Of those crashes, 114 involved an injury and nine were fatal.

How to reduce your chances of crashing at an intersection

  • When you come to a roundabout, slow down and give way to all vehicles that will cross your path from your right.
  • At intersections with a stop sign, always come to a complete stop. Don't just slow down.
  • Always obey the give way rules - find out how they work in the official New Zealand Road Code.
  • When approaching an intersection without any signs, give way to all vehicles where it is unsafe to pull out in
    front of.
  • At intersections controlled by traffic lights, be prepared to stop. If the lights have been green for a while, then it is likely they will turn amber soon. Don't speed up to get through the amber light. Always stop on amber if you can safely do so. Approaching at an appropriate speed makes stopping easier.
  • Take special care to look for cyclists, motorcyclists and any pedestrians who may start crossing the road you're turning onto.
  • Don't worry about cars behind you. Concentrate on your own driving and make decisions you are happy with. If you cause a crash, you will be responsible, not others.

Learn more about Give way rules

Know your way around roundabouts

Mature drivers

Road safety is vital for drivers of all ages.  As part of the Ashburton District Council Road Safety programme, mature drivers in the Ashburton district are offered a free annual course which is run by Age Concern.

What does the course involve?

You will be guided through a one day, 5 hour session using a workbook which you keep at the end of the course.  The course is designed to be informative, enjoyable and informal.  There are no tests or exams and you will receive a certificate of attendance.  The course is free with morning tea, lunch and refreshments provided.

Who is this course for?

If any of these scenarios have happened to you, then this course is ideal:

  • Having several near misses or actual crashes in the past three years
  • Being confused as to who should give way at intersections
  • Experiencing difficulty in shifting focus from near to far objects
  • Having difficulty looking over your shoulder to change lanes
  • Saying to yourself "where did that car come from?"
  • Having family or friends point out driving errors
2018 Course Dates:
  • Thursday 22 March - Methven Heritage Centre.
  • Friday 20 April - Ashburton Senior Centre.

To book your place on the course, please contact Age Concern on (03) 366 0903. Email [email protected] or call 03 307 7700 for more information.

Winter driving

Winter hazards

  • Ice and snow on the road – look out for high banks and tall trees that can stop sun getting on the road to melt the ice and snow
  • Bridges – slow down over bridges as they can stay slippery longer than a regular stretch of road
  • Frozen windshields – use ice scrappers and cloths to clear ice off windshields and windows. Never drive if your vision is restricted.

Stay safe on the roads in winter

First and foremost consider if you even need to drive on the roads at all.  When there is snow and ice on the roads it's best not to travel.  Check the weather forecast frequently in the winter. If the forecast says snow, stock up on food and essential items before the snow arrives to ensure you don't have to go out.  If you do need to travel:

  • Dress for the conditions
  • Take a survival kit just in case
  • Tell your loved ones the route you are travelling
  • Ensure you have enough petrol in your tank as there may be detours
  • Try to travel in the middle of the day to ensure as much snow and ice has melted as possible

Winter survival kit

Here are some ideas for items to have in your winter survival kit:

  • shovel to dig out snow
  • Windshield scraper and windshield cloth. Don't drive with poor visibility
  • Water
  • Blanket and extra warm clothing
  • Snack food
  • First Aid kit
  • Sand or cat litter to lay on the tyre track to get traction
  • Fluorescent distress flag to put on car aerial
  • Cell phone charger
  • Tow rope
  • Tyre chains
  • Torch with extra batteries

How to drive on snow and ice

Drive to the conditions. Travel slower than you normally would and avoid sudden braking and accelerating.  Pump the brake pedal rather than pressing long and hard if on a slippery surface.  Use a safe following distance of four seconds to the car in front in case they stop suddenly.  Always drive with your lights on.​

Annual Road Crash Day

Every year Ashburton College Year 12 students experience Road Crash Day, an event designed to help young people  understand how to be safe drivers.  This event is held in June each year.

The day started with the students watching a serious but mock car crash, complete with casualties, sound effects and real emergency services using the Jaws of Life tool to free trapped passengers.

The staged car crash enabled students to see first-hand how emergency teams treat injured passengers and how a deceased person is removed from the scene of the accident.

Following the mock crash, students were taught about the importance of road safety through a series of workshops. These included presentations from New Zealand Fire Service, Ashburton Community Alcohol and Drug Service (ACADS), Attitude and St Johns Ambulance. The workshops aimed to convey the impact car crashes have on the families concerned, the staff who attend them and on the wider community.


Road safety experts agree that the largest contributor to road fatalities around the world is poor speed selection. In other words: speeding.  The Ashburton district is no exception.  In fact, speeding is one of the highest contributors to crashes in the district.  No matter the cause of the crash, the speed of the driver determines the severity.

Why is speeding bad?

A faster speed means:

  • More likelihood that the driver will lose control of the vehicle as the effects of a driver's mistakes are magnified
  • A decreased chance of anticipating oncoming hazards in good time as the distance travelled in the reaction time
    is greater
  • It takes longer to stop if there is a road hazard
  • It is harder for other drivers to judge the speed of your vehicle
  • Much greater kinetic energy that must be absorbed by the impact. In other words: more damage caused

A pedestrian has a 10% chance of death being hit by a car travelling at 30 km/h whereas at 50 km/h the chance of death is 80%.  With only a 20 km/h speed difference the chance of a fatality is increased dramatically.

Reducing the average driving speeds by 4 km/h would reduce the total number of road deaths by 15% and the total number injured by 8%.  A 4 km/h speed reduction in New Zealand would stop 480 injuries and save 45 people's lives
​a year.

  • At 60 km/h the car will just hit the pedestrian
  • At 65 km/h the car will hit the pedestrian at 30 km/h
  • At 70 km/h the car will hit the pedestrian at 43 km/h
  • At 75 km/h the car will hit the pedestrian at 53 km/h
  • At 80 km/h the car will hit the pedestrian at 62 km/h

The faster the speed you travel the less vision you have of the surrounding area. This will reduce the amount of hazards you can see and decrease the time you have to anticipate it.

So how can you help?

Make sure obey the speed limit! The speed limit is set for a reason. 50 km/h is the safe speed where there is a potential for pedestrians to be on the road. 70 km/h is the safe speed where there is a potential for a side on collision and no pedestrians. 100 km/h is the safe speed where there is only the potential for a head on collision.

If you see anyone driving recklessly, make sure you report them here.

Young drivers

Road crashes are the single biggest killer of New Zealanders between 15 and 24 years of age.  Only 16% of New Zealand's licensed population is considered a young driver, yet they are involved in 34% of fatal traffic crashes, 38% of serious injury crashes, 43% of minor injury crashes and were at fault for 77% of these crashes.

The first six months after achieving a restricted licence are the most risky for a young driver.  A young driver is five times more likely to be involved in a vehicle accident than a learner driver and seven times more likely than a 45 to 49 year old driver.  It is generally accepted that the reasons for this increase are a lack of knowledge, insight, driving skill and general lack of experience behind the wheel.

So how can you help your child become a safer driver?

Supervision even during restricted licence: the average supervised driving practice for young New Zealanders is 40 hours.  It is internationally recommended that young drivers have 120 hours of supervised driving practice before driving alone.

Drop your bad habits: a parent's driving style, habits and attitudes to road safety will influence a young person's driving behaviour.  A parent is likely to influence their child's driving behaviour before they even begin the process of learning to drive.

Driver training: focus on the quality and relevance of the training you give your child when they are on their learner's and restricted driver's licence.

Too many children are involved in car accidents. You have the knowledge and experience to make sure  your child isn't one of them.

For tips on how to be the best driving teacher visit these tips for driving coaches.

Going for your licence?

The New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) have produced some handy g​uides to help you pass your Restricted licence test and your Full licence test.

Drive​ - Online videos and resources by NZTA and ACC to help Learner Drivers pass their Restricted Licence test.


Research has shown that wearing high visibility gear such as fluorescent clothing and helmets reduces a motorcyclist's risk. The more visible you are, the less likely it is that a driver will not see you and the less chance there is of being hit.

Never assume a driver has seen you. Position yourself so drivers of other vehicles will see you. Get to know their blind spots and stay out of them.

Good gear can also prevent or reduce injuries in a crash by over half. Always wear appropriate safety gear when riding.

Whatever your level, training will make you a better rider. As well as improving your handling skills, it will increase your ability to scan ahead for hazards, which will reduce your risk of being involved in a crash. .

Always ride to the conditions. Ride and corner at safe speeds and drive no faster than a speed at which you can stop in the clear space ahead of you.

Safe riding habits

  • Have a suspicious 'on-road' attitude
  • Scan for hazards by looking well ahead, behind and beside you. Use your mirrors frequently
  • Maintain a safety zone free of all hazards
  • If you ride faster or slower than the flow of traffic you become a hazard
  • Identify an escape route in front of you at all times
  • Ride with your lights on day and night
  • Make sure other drivers can see you at all times. As a motorcyclist, you can't control other drivers, so make it your responsibility to be seen. We recommend:
    • A white or bright coloured helmet
    • High-visibility vest or strips
    • Ride and corner at a safe speed, no faster than a speed at which you can stop in the clear space ahead of you
    • Do not ride up in between vehicles at intersections. The risk does not justify any time saved
    • Do not weave between vehicles on multi-lane roads. It is illegal and dangerous. Remain within your own lane and practice safe following distances

Visit Ride Forever for information on training courses

Visit NZTA for more information on motorcycles

Visiting overseas drivers

Driving in New Zealand can be very different to driving in other countries.  A number of crashes in the district are caused by not keeping to the left on the road, fatigue, distractions of the landscape and loss of control due to high speed.  General guidelines to help keep safe on the roads in Mid Canterbury are:

  • Always keep on the left hand side of the road
  • If you are tired, pull over and have a rest
  • Drive slower on unsealed roads (70km/h or less)
  • Stay focused on the road, pull over if you want to look at landscape

Learn more about safe visitor driving in Mid Canterbury

Ashburton Road Safety Coordinating Committee

A number of key partners are involved in road safety in the Ashburton District, including: Ashburton District Council, New Zealand Police, New Zealand Transport Agency, ACC and other agencies, groups and individuals. These parties form the Ashburton District Road Safety Coordinating Committee. The committee meets every three months to discuss road safety issues.