Making Auckland safer for everyone has seen Auckland Transport's (AT's) Safe Speeds programme recognised as highly commended at the 2020 3M-ACRS Diamond Road Safety Awards.
The awards, run by the Australasian College of Road Safety, called for any road safety practitioner from the public or private sector to submit road safety initiatives that stand out from the standard practice and deliver significant improvements in road safety for the community.
The award recognises the successful implementation of the first tranche of speed limit changes on more than 600 roads across Tāmaki Makaurau on 30 June 2020.
The award-winning project came about as the number of people dying or being seriously injured on Auckland roads, between 2014 and 2017, had increased more than three times the rate of the rest of New Zealand and five times the growth of kilometres travelled.
Safe speed is one element of AT's broad approach to tackle Auckland's road safety challenges that includes high risk intersection improvements, road safety education, a rural road delineation programme and pedestrian crossing improvements.
"No death or injury on our network is acceptable and speed is the biggest contributor of road crashes - both to the cause and how extreme that crash is," says Shane Ellison, chief executive of Auckland Transport.
"To change speed limits by law, we needed to first consult with Aucklanders and gather their views.
"We consulted on a proposal to reduce speed limits on ten per cent of our local roads. These roads are the worst parts of our network for death and serious injury."
The AT communications team invested heavily in communicating with stakeholders in advance of the consultation, so they were well informed and could speak on AT's behalf.
"The campaign was designed to help the public have a clearer understanding and acceptance of the need to safely manage speed – as part of a wider programme of work from Auckland Transport to make Auckland's roads safer," Mr Ellison says.
The consultation saw Auckland Transport receive over double its target of submissions.
"In the first 24 hours, we had 1,000 submissions. In total we received 11,719. This was Auckland Transport's most successful consultation. These results showed Auckland Transport's Board we had captured the views of Aucklanders and on 22 October 2019 they created the bylaw," Mr Ellison says.
"Just as important, has been the transparency we have provided about how we considered the feedback of Aucklanders and made changes to the bylaw that was approved by the AT Board.
"No other region in New Zealand has implemented speed limit changes on this scale before. It sets the scene for future implementation of our Safe Speeds programme and serves as a beacon for other regional councils locally and internationally to emulate, to improve road safety."