Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Other Activties undertaken – James Kings' (Wellington Region) recollections

Road Safety Action Plans

Another area we became involved in was Road Safety Action Plans (RSAP).
I’m not sure when they were initiated or by whom (possibly 2004 and possibly under Demetra Kennedy’s  -Regional Manager)- watch in Wellington Region).

The idea was to get all parties within a local authority with an interest in road safety to come together to discuss and plan road safety actions that were within their milieu and that they could cooperate and have a positive impact on road safety in that authority’s area.

Generally, the group consisted of the road safety coordinator and the roading engineers from the authority, the Police, Accident Compensation Authority, Automobile Association, an LTSA/LTNZ/NZTA officer and a state highways representative.

In Wellington, these meetings were initially chaired by the Regional Director (which suggests the RSAPs were initiated by LTSA/LTNZ/NZTA possibly to better understand and support the work of the road safety coordinator whom we were largely funding), before they devolved to the local authority.

In the first meeting, there was a general discussion of what each organisation thought were the road safety issues that needed to be addressed and what if anything could be bought to the table to address the problems.

Subsequent meetings generally came together on a quarterly basis to discuss progress and liaise with each other on their programmes.

These meetings required some analysis of their projects or trends in the road safety data they obtained associated with their projects and hence whether they believed they had made some progress.

We bought crash trend statistics for each of the problem categories that had been defined for the group to tackle.

I had, now, “discovered” that Excel could get data directly from CAS, so promptly set about producing a spreadsheet that could extract the appropriate data for individual authorities (see ‘RSAP Printout’) that tied in to the problem categories.

It was well received in Wellington and Christchurch Regions and though I wanted them to be run locally there were blockages in the network that did not allow the program to run from Christchurch or Auckland.

The program thus was never fully developed but I consider it to have been successful.

(Note from Chris Hewitt - In Auckland the origins were much older most certainly in the 1990's or before and these groups and the term RSAP was not used until much later. 
I remember them being really functional in Auckland.  I was looking after "south" at that stage which was Franklin District, Papakura District and Manukau City. Each one had its own "road safety liaison" group reflective of  geography and population. 

For myself they were a chance to deliver data, stay connected, keep pushing road safety and develop quality working relationships with local bodies. 
I thought as a single point of contact for the relatively diverse professions that made up these liaison groups they were excellent as an information exchange. 

I met many highly skilled and motivated people in that time from the local bodies, Opus (who helped Franklin and Manukau out), ACC, the Fire service, NZ Police , St Johns, Police Intel and the Road Safety co-ordinators. In Franklin the Road Safety Co-ordinator Mark Ball later became the Mayor - nothing like support from the top. 

As a personal view I felt they fell over once HQ started demanding a more formal one size fits all RSAP type approach possibly because that sense of local ownership and operating style was being taken away. 

I do remember working hard with Inspector Sandy Newsome of the Manukau Police to develop some data driven road safety objectives, but I did have a sense of frustration that many of the "targets" suggested were far from measurable. 

I can't remember if anything in the way of a full plan was ever completed as by that stage all the LTSA/LTNZ/NZTA mergers had muddied the water. Certainly after Doug Miller stopped being our manager the idea of rolling up ones sleeves and getting stuck in with the local people all but ceased. Under the CAS Manager we were even pulled from CAS training outside the Agency, which we'd seen as an essential activity to get local bodies up-skilled and doing their own fishing in CAS which the NZTA supplied free).

Crash Rates

Crash rates on individual roads was the target with this analysis but was never fully realised though I believed it had promise.

It took data from CAS and from the database on local authority’s traffic volume and length of individual road links and matched them to determine a crash rate on that road.

This was feasible because each crash was supposedly tied to an individual piece of a road on which that crash event had occurred.

One problem that was discovered in this process was that crashes at intersections were not being correctly assigned to the roads on which the crash occurred and that they were just being assigned to one of the intersecting roads. (Bugs in CAS turn up in the most unexpected moments)

I was also looking to aggregate the individual roads but had not developed a robust way of doing so given the different traffic volumes on individual bits of a road and the likely difference in section profiles.

(Note from Chris Hewitt - a reliable crash rate system built into CAS had been a goal from the outset but one of the issues is the way the traffic volumes are gathered. Much of the network is not actually counted regularly, if at all and this alone can lead to wild variations in the resultant rates. As this was an area that most end users wanted Stuart Badger and RTI worked to refine the process over many years and got close at the time the Investment Group at NZTA took over CAS , with Stuart just needing to do further testing. However a lack of enthusiasm from the new NZTA CAS Steering group and the dropping of the maintenance contract with RTI saw the end of development.)

Risk Profile

Late in the piece (2009/2010) we looked at risk profiles and again I used data extraction from CAS to Excel to create a table of the risk profile. This was then further advanced by Colin Morrison.

I am sure there were other minor projects undertaken for other parties and even some assistance given to others with Excel problems but I’ll need reminding!

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