Home Babies needs Federated Farmers Vice President Karen Williams says rural roads should be for all Kiwis

Federated Farmers Vice President Karen Williams says rural roads should be for all Kiwis

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Anyone concerned about rural road safety can contact Federated Farmers. File photo / John Stone

The state of our rural roads should be of concern to all New Zealanders – because all New Zealanders use rural roads, said Federated Farmers Vice President Karen Williams.

“It’s easy to think it’s rural people who are just being affected – they’re not. It’s everyone, urban and rural,” she told The Country’s Rowena Duncum.

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

Williams, who is the transport spokeswoman for Federated Farmers, 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 happened here. Three lives lost; a mother and her two babies. This is something we need to reverse.”

The survey also revealed that there were 79 similar intersections in the Ashburton district alone. The coroner recommended any necessary examination.

Williams said it would “take place across the country.”

“We need to make sure – like what the coroner has recommended – that we have the right markings and signage so that drivers are properly alerted and can slow down and operate intersections as they are supposed to. “

Federated Farmers Vice President Karen Williams visited the crash site near Ashburton where a woman and her two babies lost their lives.  Photo / Provided
Federated Farmers Vice President Karen Williams visited the crash site near Ashburton where a woman and her two babies lost their lives. Photo / Provided

Williams said farmers in Ashburton told him 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 shed light on the coroner’s recommendations, she said.

“It’s time to research and find out where these repairs are needed and schedule them into work schedules.”

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 rally behind this [message] and it’s not just about these intersections – it’s also about the state of our rural roads.

“We want the right results and yes, sometimes the campaign has to be part of [that] wrap. But really, we want change on the roads. We want safer roads.”

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

“We expect to be able to travel safely and efficiently on these [roads] and that needs to be a much higher priority with action on the ground.”

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

“We are here to help. We can connect with our members at the push of a button. We can get that feedback from our rural communities and feed it into work programs through District Councils and Waka Kotahi .

“We are all responsible. We all have to push and advocate for better results.”