Road safety in Canterbury

Cyclist and motoristRoad safety is an ongoing priority for our transport network.

Everyone using Canterbury's roads should be able to get to where they are going safely, regardless of whether they are walking, cycling, driving, motorcycling or taking public transport.

Making our roads safer takes a collective effort, from the government right through to individual road users. We are making our roads safer by investing in a safer transport network and system and supporting the government's Road to Zero strategy.

Factors contributing to road safety issues in Canterbury

Canterbury landscapeOur region is diverse, and combines a large area of plains with rural, urban and city living, which means residents may use many different forms of transport and types of roads in their day-to-day journeys.

Our beautiful whenua, awa and maunga are enjoyed by residents and visitors alike, resulting in regular travel between districts to access mountains, forests, lakes and rivers, particularly on weekends and public holidays.

We enjoy the benefits of large numbers of both domestic and international tourists, meaning some road users may be unfamiliar with our roads and/or driving in unfamiliar vehicles.

Other factors include:

  • Rural road intersectiona thriving farming community, with rangatahi for whom a driver licence means freedom and access to entertainment
  • a growing uptake of e-scooters, e-bikes, walking and cycling
  • employment across the region, which requires people to regularly commute between districts for work
  • peak travel times and congestion, typically at the start and end of weekdays
  • a key freight hub with two ports, meaning we have a freight rail system that regularly intersects with roads as well as heavy vehicles on the same network as private cars, cyclists and pedestrians
  • maintenance of the roads and other infrastructure upgrades, which may mean temporary road layout changes, reduced speeds, and increased congestion.

Canterbury Regional Road Safety Working Group

0 deaths on our roads by 2050

Waka Kotahi Road to Zero

In 2013, the Canterbury Regional Road Safety Working Group (RRSWG) was established under the Canterbury Regional Transport Committee (RTC). The purpose was to provide a forum for Canterbury Councils and key partners to develop a coordinated regional road safety direction.

In 2020, the Group decided to adopt the principles and goals of Waka Kotahi Road to Zero, the government's road safety strategy, which follows the internationally-recognised safer systems approach. This acknowledges that some crashes are inevitable as human beings make mistakes, but ensures everyone (including road and vehicle designers, policymakers and road users) does their bit to reduce deaths and injuries on the roads by taking a whole of system approach.

Everyone can travel around Canterbury safely.

Purpose: To provide leadership and direction on road safety initiatives that achieve consistency across the region.

Goal: A 40 percent reduction in deaths and serious injuries on Canterbury roads by 2030.

Achieving this goal would mean there are less than 25 people killed and less than 180 people seriously injured on our region’s roads, streets, cycleways and footpaths each year.


Understanding regional and local road user safety issues

Improve understanding of road safety issues
Establish regional priorities

Success measure: RTC / RRSWG are confident on regional road safety issues.
 Achieving consistency through coordinated activity

Regional Road Safety Plan
Regional monitoring framework

Success measure: Every district is progressing towards delivery of the Plan.
Developing regional and local stakeholder commitment and effective change

Monitor Road Safety Plan
Develop comms plan
 Engage with stakeholders on strategy and vision

Success measure: Investment objectives are aligned with local and regional road safety issues.

Regional speed management policies

  • We will build and honour relationships with Rūnanga to achieve safe speeds around locations of significance.
  • Consistent speed limits across the Canterbury region.
  • Safe speeds that support land use change as growth occurs.
  • Survivable speeds ensuring safety for all.
  • Safe speeds to support health, wellbeing and liveable places for all.
  • Safe speeds that contribute to emissions reductions including streets where people feel safe to walk, ride cycle, scoot and access public transport.

Visit Waka Kotahi | Safe and appropriate speed limits for more information.

Road safety statistics

Through the RRSWG and partners, Canterbury has continued to address safety issues and as a result has seen reduced deaths and serious injuries.

In order to measure our success, the Regional Transport Committee agreed to monitor three Indicators as part of the 2021-31 Canterbury Regional Land Transport Plan. These help determine the state of road safety in Canterbury and are shown below.

  Road safety data
We are currently experiencing technical difficulties with the accuracy of the data in the following graphs. We are working to resolve this as soon as possible. Apologies for any inconvenience.

The overall trend for deaths and serious injuries per million kilometres travelled in Canterbury is a downward one, which suggests that the road safety measures being implemented are having a positive effect.

The number of injuries sustained per million kilometres travelled in Canterbury in 2020/21 was similar to the previous year but substantially reduced from previous years.

As with the previous two road safety indicators, the number of crashes involving trucks has been trending downwards in recent years, despite a small increase in 2020/21 over the previous year.

Improving road safety in our region

Improving road safety requires a collective effort, from individual road users right through to the government. In Canterbury, we're doing our best to minimise the harm incurred on our roads by:

  • State highway and railway imageUndertaking improvements in our roading network -
    • straightening hairpin turns in the Hundalees
    • installing better signalling at railway crossings, especially in communities like Templeton
    • better State Highway safety. particularly along SH1 through Greater Christchurch
    • roundabout improvements in both Timaru and Waimakariri.
  • Collaborating on speed management - particularly around schools, and delivering road safety campaigns, such as annual winter driving communications, speed and seatbelts.
  • Investing in road safety - over the next 10 years, the RLTP forecasts around $730 million will be invested in the Road to Zero programme across the region.

However, we still have a long way to go. The different environments that our road users have to navigate means consistency across the region is vital in ensuring our roads are safer for all road users.

Making sure road environments are consistent across the region and speeds are safe and appropriate for those environments will improve safety for everyone using them.