The lane markings are intended to persuade motorcyclists to slow down when entering curves. (New Zealand Transport Agency photo)

NZ Agency Hopes Lane Markings Reduce Motorcycle Crashes

The Transport Agency is trying this on the 130-kilometer Southern Coromandel Loop. Only 3 percent of the vehicles that travel it are motorcycles, but from 2008 to 2012, motorcyclists were involved in 44 percent of all fatal and serious injury crashes on it.

New lane markings on the 130-kilometer Southern Coromandel Loop are part of Safer Rides, a multi-agency project in New Zealand aimed at improving motorcyclists' safety. That road has experienced a disproportionately high number of serious motorcycle crashes in recent years -- while just 1-3 percent of the vehicles that travel it are motorcycles, between 2008-2012, motorcyclists were involved in 44 percent of all fatal and serious injury crashes there.

The agency reports the markings "are designed to reduce the rider's speed on the approach to deceptive corners and improve their lane positioning. The initiative is known as a perceptual countermeasure because of the way it changes the way the road looks or is perceived by motorcyclists."

"These road markings will provide riders with advance warning about the actual geometry of the curve ahead, which will hopefully encourage them to slow down before the approach. We also want to encourage riders to take a safe line through the curve by perceptually narrowing the road using lane markings. This has a slowing effect and has been trialed for general traffic in other parts of the country," said Hamish Mackie, a human factors specialist from Mackie Research and Consulting who is evaluating the effectiveness of this project.

"The lane markings are just one of a series of safety improvements being trialled. Other initiatives include upgraded signage, road surface improvements, removal or protection of roadside hazards, as well as new rescue helicopter landing areas," said Michelle Te Wharau, principal safety engineer for the Transport Agency, which is working in partnership with other road safety groups, including Motorcycle Safety Advisory Council; NZ Police; ACC; Thames-Coromandel and Hauraki District Councils; Waikato Regional Council; and motorcycling user groups. "While the Safer Rides project has a focus on motorcyclists, the initiatives planned will benefit all road users," Te Wharau added.

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