South Taranaki Star
Dangerous rural intersections identified for improvement
Potentially dangerous intersections in rural Taranaki are under investigation as a coroner recommends a nationwide review of rural roads following the death of a mother and her two babies in the South Island.
Coroner Marcus Elliot has recommended transport agency Waka Kotahi conduct a review of international, national and regional practice of the use of traffic signs and markings that relate specifically to controlling risks at rural crossroads.
His recommendation followed the inquests of Chante Harmer, 30, and her two children – 19month-old Te Awanuiarangi and 8-month-old Wysdom – after their car collided with another vehicle near Ashburton in April 2019.
The inquest found Harmer might not have seen a give way sign as she approached an intersection before she went through it and collided with a ute.
Coroner Elliot has also recommended the Ashburton District Council conducts a review of rural intersections within its boundaries.
Taranaki’s three district councils say they are continually looking into safety improvements on the hundreds of kilometres of rural roads in the region.
Fifteen people have died on
Taranaki rural roads in the past five years.
New Plymouth District Council manager transport Rui Leitao said safety improvements were planned on rural roads over the next three years.
They included better signage and enhanced road marking, removing physical barriers to improve visibility and reviewing speed limits, especially outside rural schools.
Intersections had already been identified for improvements, including Tarata Rd and Dudley Rd, while safety improvements would be carried out on Lepperton’s Richmond Rd and Tariki Rd. Upper Carrington Rd and Otaraoa Rd have also been identified for widening.
‘‘We’re currently working to improve Kairau Rd East at Waitara Rd and Suffolk Rd South at Tarata Rd, intersections where roadside fences or crops are spilling on to road reserve, which are impacting visibility,’’ Leiao said.
‘‘Public feedback is important and we recently upgraded the signage at the Kairau and Richmond intersection following reports from residents of motorists not giving way or slowing down.’’
Stratford District Council roading manager Stephen Bowden said they were in the process of improving safety at rural intersections including Opunake Rd and Palmer Rd and Opunake Rd and Manaia Rd.
Bowden said they had recently completed work to instal electronic school zone signs on Pembroke Rd near the intersection near Pembroke School.
‘‘We have also signalled to Waka Kotahi that Midhirst and Flint Rd intersections on SH3 require safety improvements,’’ he said.
‘‘We’re particularly concerned about the Flint Rd intersection as this has worsened due to residential growth in the area and has been a long-standing issue when events are on at the A&P Showgrounds and speedway.’’
A spokesperson for the South Taranaki District Council said it had identified the Eltham Rd and Rowan Rd intersection for safety improvements. It had received 44 complaints related to rural intersections in the past 12 months, including Manawapou Rd and Whareroa Rd where new signage had been installed.
All three councils said they were also working with Waka Kotahi on several intersections that bordered state highways.