Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency’s largest programme of state highway repairs and renewals is underway this summer, which means stop/go operators are a common sight.
They’re on the roadside all day, in all weather, in their hi-visibility gear, directing the flow of traffic with a stop/go sign, a walkie talkie and a smile.
Transport Agency Regional Transport Systems Manager Mark Owen says it can be a dangerous job.
“A few road cones and a stop/go sign do not protect our workers from a speeding vehicle. We’re asking all motorists to please slow down when passing through our work sites and stick to the temporary speed limits.
“It’s always concerning to us whenever we hear that stop/go operators have been nearly being hit by vehicles passing too close or speeding through the work site.
“This sort of driving behaviour is unacceptable because it puts everyone at risk – not just the stop/go operator, but also road worker crew members and other road users.
“Our workers go to work each day expecting to go home safely at the end of it, just like everyone else. Safety is our top priority, but there’s only so much we can do to keep people safe – motorists also need to take responsibility and consider the safety of road workers.”
Mr Owen says the point of a stop/go operation is to try to keep traffic flowing, alternating for each direction, when the state highway is reduced to one lane.
“We try to keep delays to a minimum but sometimes traffic builds up. We understand that this can be frustrating for motorists and our stop/go workers do their best to get people on their way as quickly as possible, but the most important thing is for everyone to get to their destination safely.
“People driving through the Wellington region may have noticed an increase in roadwork sites over the last few weeks. The summer months are our busiest time of year for road resurfacing and repairs, as we try to take advantage of dry, warm conditions and long sunny days. This work is essential for the safety and resilience of our state highways, so we ask motorists to be patient and understanding.
“If you are stopped by a stop/go operator, use the time to pause and relax, have a stretch or wind down the windows for some fresh air. You’ll soon be on your way again.”
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