5 Mar 2015

Govt speeds up road safety work

7:23 pm on 5 March 2015

The Government is fast-tracking work to make South Island roads safer following recent crashes involving overseas visitors.

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Photo: 123RF

Five-year-old Ruby Marris from Oamaru was killed when a rented ute driven by a Chinese man collided with her family's car in a head-on collision last month.

Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher said the pain of that day was still deep.

"She got buried this morning. It's one of those things where the community wants to see more done. It was important that I came along, and met with the Minister today and found out what's going on, and I'm pleased to say there is a lot of initiatives happening."

In another crash, in Templeton, south of Christchurch, a Taiwanese tourist went through a stop sign and hit another vehicle, killing her passenger father.

Associate Transport Minister Craig Foss announced planned safety improvements on state highways in Otago and Southland will be fast-tracked for completion by 1 July, and road works will be extended to the West Coast.

The steps include installing 50 kilometres of centre-line rumble strips to deter drivers from drifting across the centre line.

There will be another 140km of no-passing markings and 200km of highway marked with 'keep left' arrows.

These would be in addition to a range of measures in place in Otago and Southland, including 564km of edge-line rumble strips, 1800km of highway marked with 'keep left' arrows, 4755 curve warning signs and 165km of safety barriers.

Mr Foss said the series of fatal crashes had prompted the Government to act.

"The Government recognises that many people are concerned with poor driving behaviour on challenging roads in and around popular tourist destinations, particularly in the lower South Island," Mr Foss said.

The Rental Vehicle Association is welcoming safety improvements to popular tourist roads in the South Island.

The association's president, Ian Berrington, said any road improvement would help save lives.

He said a lot of visitors had some difficulties with some of New Zealand's road conditions and the move should go some way to addressing that.

"Obviously it's not the whole answer but I think that it's a very positive step."

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