Council rapt with `indestructible' road safety product

POLE POSITION: Armorflex’s Dallas James, left, and Brendon Morgan, say no one ever wants to go first but the Papakura District Council did and other councils have followed suit.
POLE POSITION: Armorflex’s Dallas James, left, and Brendon Morgan, say no one ever wants to go first but the Papakura District Council did and other councils have followed suit.

A road safety product first rolled out in south Auckland is going global.

The Raptor is a two-part plastic cushion that wraps around trees and power poles. Bolted together in the middle, each block hides four energy absorbent cartridges that act like airbags.

Designed and developed by Auckland company Armorflex, the wraps significantly reduce the damage caused when cars and poles – or trees – collide.

Managing director Dallas James says the Papakura District Council was the first to try the product, installing two near an intersection in Karaka.

Council capital works manager Richard Firth says the intersection isn't a crash blackspot but recent upgrading work meant two nearby power poles needed "additional safety work".

"Wherever possible, we will work to remove the hazard altogether," he says.

"In this case that would mean moving the poles or undergrounding the powerlines."

But the poles couldn't be relocated because they're too close to a private property and the council didn't have a spare $150,000 to put them underground.

The Raptors cost the council around $4300 each excluding installation.

"It's cheap compared to the cost of human life," says Mr James.

After an accident, only the side of the Raptor that's been hit has to be replaced.

Other than that they have a 25-year life expectancy and are pretty indestructible, he says.

"It's so tough you can't really attack it and you can wipe graffiti off.

"And they're 110kg each so no one is going to run off with one either," he says.

Dunedin and Rodney councils have since followed Papakura's lead, installing Raptors. They've also been modified and exported to Sweden, Canada and the United States.

Manukau Courier