The Auckland Motorway Alliance (AMA) has won New Zealand’s premier road safety award with a simple but effective modification of traffic signals to stop motorists driving the wrong way onto Auckland motorways.

The 3M Traffic Safety Innovation Award for 2018, which recognises exemplary innovation and effectiveness to save lives and injuries on roads, was presented at the Engineering NZ Transportation Group’s annual conference in Queenstown, attended by more than 150 of NZ’s transport professionals and advocates.

“Our 2018 winner demonstrates an effective and innovative approach to reducing the risk of wrong-way driving on the motorway network, which can cause deaths and serious injuries to road users and result in significant traffic congestion on the state highway,” says Transportation Group National Chairman, Alan Gregory

“The AMA is being congratulated through this award for developing such an innovative and effective project, which could be applied to signalised intersections in other parts of the country or around the world.”

The traffic signals modification replaces the solid round green light at motorway interchanges with a green arrow where a turn is banned, to make it more intuitive to drivers where they should head. This allows for the removal of signs banning turns, reducing clutter and distractions on the road. The AMA’s approach is based on the principle of reinforcing to drivers expected behaviour, rather than telling motorists what they can’t do.

The change is in response to AMA regularly seeing motorists drive down motorway off-ramps before realising their mistake and retreating. More than 100 wrong-way drivers make it on to the motorway by mistake each year.

Test sites for this intervention recorded a reduction in wrong-way driving of between 80-100% and as a result the AMA is rolling out the improvement across the Auckland motorway network.

Judges for the 3M award considered the specific features of the many projects submitted, particularly in terms of innovation in thinking and technology, problem-solving as well as the real benefits in reducing trauma. Cost-effectiveness and transferability to other areas were other key criteria.

Finalists for this hotly-contested award came from many areas of the transport profession.

The winning team was made up of the following members:

Andrew Stevens             – Auckland Motorway Alliance

Rojina Baisyet                   – Beca

Joanna Chung                   – Opus

Jerry Khoo                         – Beca

Murray Parker                   – NZ Transport Agency


The other finalists were:

  • Auckland Motorway Alliance – X-NET – the use of military hardware in the fight to keep road workers safe
  • Auckland Motorway Alliance – Outriggers
  • Level crossing safety programme – KiwiRail
  • Safety MAN Road Safety Truck – NZ Trucking Association


The 3M Young Professional Award 2018 went to Eranga Dasanayaka – Abley Consultants Ltd for Traffic Management Plans for Inspections”


The 3M Traffic Safety Innovation Award is based on the Safe System approach. The Safe System approach aims for a more forgiving road system that takes human fallibility and vulnerability into account. Under a Safe System we design the whole transport system to protect people from death and serious injury.

Under the Safe System approach, all system designers must share the responsibility for road safety outcomes. System designers include planners, engineers, parents, policy makers, enforcement officers, educators, utility providers, insurers, vehicle manufacturers and importers, the media, fleet managers and many more.

The award seeks any participants in the system design to put forward proposals that show innovative thinking under one of the four pillars of the Safe System approach: Safe roads and roadsides; Safe speeds; Safe road use; Safe vehicles.

Describe your (team’s) innovative achievement in implementing one of the pillars of the Safe System approach. This should be no more than 10 pages in total, including supporting material. Please describe the need for the intervention, the innovative thinking involved, the effectiveness of the intervention, and the extent of the benefits to a wide range of transport system users.

The winner of the award will be announced at the Transportation Group conference in Christchurch in March 2020, at which finalists will present their project. The winner or team leader of the winning project will win a trip to the next ATSSA conference in USA and visit the 3M head office. The winning project will also be promoted by 3m and the Transportation Group through media and industry channels.