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Source: New Zealand Transport Agency

A recent police focus on driver behaviour around state highway roadworks sites in Coastal Otago, north of Dunedin, has resulted in a large number of drivers being stopped and educated on the need to take more care driving through these sites, says Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency.

Waka Kotahi Journey Manager for the Lower South Island, Peter Brown, says that roading contractors raised concerns about a significant increase in drivers ignoring posted speed limits on roadworks sites in the last few months.  There has also been recent evidence of night-time crashes, where vehicles have hit steel guardrail barriers due to excessive speed in areas still under repair or freshly sealed. 

“This behaviour is a significant safety issue for our workers, for the drivers themselves and all other road users,” Mr Brown says.

“Everyone deserves to get home safely to their family and friends after a hard day’s work often in hot and uncomfortable conditions and that includes all our traffic management and roading repair crews,” he says.

Contractor concerns were raised with NZ Police and their response was immediate.  District Road Policing Manager, Inspector Amelia Steel advised that a number of motorists, some travelling far in excess of the temporary speed limit, had been stopped by police in recent days.

“This has resulted in simple education for most drivers but, in some instances, infringement notices have been necessary.”

The period from October to March is a key time for road works to be completed around the country and, this year in particular, contractors in the Lower South Island have been working hard to get the roads into good shape for the busy summer holiday period. 

Mr Brown acknowledges that multiple road works sites encountered on a journey could be frustrating, but drivers still needed to be patient and comply with speed restrictions to maintain the safety of contractors and other road users. Even where sites had no staff actively working on them, reduced speed limits were there to protect the road surface where it was newly sealed and prevent unnecessary damage to vehicles.

Road policing around roadworks sites in Otago and Southland will continue to occur over the summer, where it is seen to be needed.

SH1 Evansdale, north of Dunedin, in recent weeks.

Stick to the speed limits when driving through roadwork sites this summer.

We want to keep everyone safe when driving through roadwork sites, especially our road workers.  

Keeping your speed down where sealing work is underway or has just been completed not only helps chip to settle in the new road surface, it will also prevent stone chips flying into windscreens and protect our crews from injuries.

Leave space – about two car lengths between you and the car in front.

Speed limits, often 30km/h, through work sites are there for a good reason – to help keep you safe and to protect the crew and work being done.

Even if you can’t see workers on the road or it looks like works are finished when you come across a temporary speed limit sign, safety hazards may still be present.

There could be loose chip from a recent re-seal, workers underneath or on the side of the road out of sight.

Video giving tips for driving safely through chip seal(external link)

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