The Development of KiwiRAP: an Innovative Road Assessment Program

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KiwiRAP is the award-winning New Zealand Road Assessment Program (RAP) that has attracted international recognition for its innovation and effectiveness.  Road assessment program already operate in 60 countries, but KiwiRAP’s significant innovations have been acknowledged by the international body iRAP who are now promoting the system as the preferred approach for developing country specific road assessment programs.

    Location: New Zealand
    Region: Asia Pacific
    Market Sector: Transportation
    Client Type: National Government
    Status: Complete
    Officially launched by the Minister of Transport, the Hon. Steven Joyce in June 2010 the star rating module involves an assessment and allocation of a star rating from 1 star (poor) through to 5 stars (excellent) across the rural state highway network. The ratings provide a quantitative measure of the safety provision of the road infrastructure and roadside environment. This is a proactive approach to road safety that is expected to reduce deaths and injuries on New Zealand’s roads by influencing driver behavior and better targeting road improvement programs to address the safety shortcomings identified on some stretches of the network.

    MWH was commissioned in 2007 to work in partnership with the NZ Transport Agency, Automobile Association, Ministry of Transport, Police and ACC to adapt and enhance the Australian program (AusRAP) to suit New Zealand conditions. The  comprehensive and progressive  program of research and analysis completed by MWH’s road safety experts incorporated the following innovative approaches.

    • Recognizing that the risk of head-on crashes increases with increasing traffic volume and incorporating a relationship, based on NZ crash data, in the model to reflect this.
    • Developing a method of classifying side roads based on main road features such as signage and turning lane provision.
    • Eliminating the subjectivity of visual rating by automating the assessment of horizontal alignment, terrain and overtaking sight distance by using NZ high speed geometry data.
    • Modifying the weighting of the head-on severity ratings using NZ crash data and guidance manuals.
    • Altering the Road Type categories to suit New Zealand road classification.
    • Making minor changes to the shoulder width, lane width and hazard offset categories to reflect NZ design standards.
      • Ensuring consistency with the AusRAP star ratings by altering the star rating bands which are used to convert from a Road Protection Score to a star rating.
      • Completing an extensive program of testing to calibrate and validate the KiwiRAP star rating model to ensure the results  made intuitive sense both in magnitude and relativity between different sections of road.

    KiwiRAP has significantly improved the relationship between crash risk and the star ratings achieving a very sound correlation with injury crash rates, which explains 87% of the variation in independent variables.

    Following the successful launch of the KiwiRAP Star Ratings, the NZTA, with input and support from MWH has developed the KiwiRAP Analysis Tool (KAT) to enable the targeting and testing of proposed safety treatments to ensure optimum return on road safety investment.

    • Won New Zealand Engineering Excellence Awards as winner of Excellence in Engineering for Safety Award
    • Won the 2012 Association of Consulting Engineers New Zealand (ACENZ) INNOVATE NZ Gold Award
    • Won the international road assessment program (iRAP) Star Performer Award (Asia Pacific) in 2010.
    • Won the 2010 Trafinz Leadership Award for its contribution to road safety leadership in New Zealand.


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