Tess Nichol is an NZME. News Service reporter.

Is this the end of the stop-go worker?

Successful trial on new one-man system could see single operator controlling traffic.
Bryan (left) and Peter Brooks test out the new remote-controlled stop/go sign. Photo / Kellie Blizard
Bryan (left) and Peter Brooks test out the new remote-controlled stop/go sign. Photo / Kellie Blizard

It's one of the most recognisable sights for road-users everywhere - a person leaning on a stop/go sign, waiting for a message to come through on his walkie-talkie to tell him when to swivel it around and let traffic through.

But being ushered through roadworks by a person could soon be a thing of the past if a new, remote-controlled stop/go sign is approved by the New Zealand Transport Agency and Auckland Transport.

In a trial run at a roadworks site in Graham St in central Auckland, two remote-controlled stop/go signs are controlled by one worker, who views traffic coming from both lanes, pushing a button to turn a mechanical sign and control the traffic flow.

David Russell, national hire manager for CSP Pacific, the company behind the new signs, said it was a safety-focused initiative.

"Not only is it safer because you haven't got some poor guy standing in the middle of the road trying to stop traffic, you've got one person controlling both ends instead of two.

"It's still in its infancy, we're trialling it with a few customers now before we get the whole thing approved, but it's an initiative to get people off the road and away from oncoming cars."

CSP Pacific hires out roadwork equipment to third parties to use on site.

Mr Russell said the company was hoping for approval for the sign at an upcoming NZTA meeting.

If it was approved he expected it to become increasingly popular with companies, particularly in the provinces where it could be challenging to hire enough road workers to man a site.

Paul Claydon, who owns Infrastructure & Civil Works, the company trialling the sign in central Auckland, said so far it was working well.

"This is the first one I've seen on our sites like that, we usually use traffic lights but this one is more user-friendly," he said.

"The motorist takes more care when they see a sign like that. And you've only got one person there. It's cost-effective."

A worker at the site, who asked not to be named, agreed that while there was a benefit for his employer in having only one person for the job, drivers did not always respect the sign.

"When you're right there with the [manual] sign the cars feel like they have to stop, with this sometimes they see the sign but drive through anyway."

- NZ Herald

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