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Karen Williams: Federated Farmers vice president says rural roads should concern all Kiwis

The Country,
Publish Date
Thu, 28 Apr 2022, 1:33PM
Anyone with concerns about the safety of a rural road can get in touch with Federated Farmers. (Photo / John Stone)

Karen Williams: Federated Farmers vice president says rural roads should concern all Kiwis

The Country,
Publish Date
Thu, 28 Apr 2022, 1:33PM

The state of our rural roads should be of concern to all New Zealanders - because all New Zealanders use rural roads, Federated Farmers vice president Karen Williams says.

"It's easy to think that these are rural people just being affected – they're not. This is everyone, urban and rural," she told The Country's Rowena Duncum.

Earlier this week, Coroner Marcus Elliott called for a national review of rural intersections after the death of a woman and her two babies following a high-speed crash near Ashburton in April 2019.

Williams, who is Federated Farmers' transport spokeswoman, was in Ashburton when the coroner's report was released. She went to visit the crash site.

"I just want to acknowledge the tragedy that occurred here. Three lives lost; a mum and her two babies. This is something we've got to turn around."

The inquest also found there were 79 similar intersections in the Ashburton district alone. The coroner recommended all needed reviewing.

Williams said this would "play out around the whole country".

"We need to make sure – like what the coroner has recommended – that we've got the right markings and signage so drivers are well alerted and are able to slow down and make intersections work how they're supposed to."

Williams said Ashburton farmers had told her that some roads had potholes so large that vehicles had to move to the opposite side of the road to avoid them.

It was stories like these that brought the coroner's recommendations into focus, she said.

"It's time to do the research and find out where these repairs are needed and to schedule them into work programmes."

While the Government's Road to Zero message was admirable, it needed to be more than just an awareness campaign, Williams said.

"This Government has a responsibility to get in behind that [message] and that's not just about these intersections - it's the state of our rural roads as well.

"We want the right outcomes and yes, sometimes campaigning needs to be part of [that] package. But really, we want the change on the roads. We want safer roads."

All New Zealanders used rural roads and networks to access "our beautiful places in the country", Williams said.

"We have an expectation that we can travel safely and efficiently on those [roads] and that needs to be given much more priority with action on the ground."

Anyone with concerns about rural roads could get in touch with Federated Farmers, Williams said.

"We're here to help. We can connect with our membership at the press of a button. We can get that feedback in from our rural communities and feed it into work programmes through district councils and through Waka Kotahi.

"We're all responsible. We've all got to push and advocate for better outcomes."

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