Call for more driver care on road

By HANNAH WALKER

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"If drivers aren't more cautious someone is going to die," residents of Beaconsfield Road have warned, following reports of a second car accident in less than six months on the same stretch of road.

Kay and Ian Shearer have owned a property on Beaconsfield Road for five years, and in that time have had to repair their fence five times after vehicles have crashed through it over the years.

Kay says while there is no denying the road isn't the easiest road to navigate she believes it is speed and the over-confidence of some drivers that is the biggest factor in most accidents.

"The majority of accidents through our fence have involved drivers who live in the area or people who drive the road regularly. It's not that it is new a road to them, it's that they are over-confident."

Kay and Ian repaired a fence on their property last month after a car drove through it. They also had to repair it last August after another driver ran it over along with four cows.

"Repairing the fence each time is a pain, but it is nothing compared to someone losing a life," says Kay, adding that it is sheer luck that none of the accidents on the road have been fatalities.

Linda Whittington, a resident of Beaconsfield Road, says she too believes if nothing changes, the stretch of road is a "tragedy waiting to happen".

Linda says for every road accident that is reported for that stretch of road, there are at least two near-misses that go un-reported.

"There are permanent tyre tracks in the grass verge from cars swerving to miss oncoming traffic that have crossed the centre line."

Linda says fears for her family and friends who travel the road everyday has seen her approach the district council about what can be done to curb the speed of drivers on the road.

"I felt heard and believe the council are taking the matter seriously. I hope to see changes made to the road sooner rather than later."

Sven Hanne, director of assets at the Stratford District Council (SDC), says that while the council does not have the authority to change the speed limit on Beaconsfield Road it does intend to make adjustments to the particularly troublesome stretch of road.

Sven says in the short term SDC will change the existing PW20 signs, which indicate a double bend, to fluorescent PW20 signs with a supplementary speed advisory sign, all on a white backing board. There will be one on each side of the road, for drivers heading south towards SH43 and those heading north towards Midhirst.

Sven adds that long-term the SDC will start work on widening the road over the crest to give more road width and improve the skid resistance of the road using blast furnace slag, a product with greater stability and reduced wear.

The SDC will monitor how these changes affect the road in terms of the number of crashes, however this can only be accurately assessed if the community reports accidents and near misses. Stratford police senior sergeant Robbie O'Keefe agrees.

"If you or a loved one has an accident or a near miss it is important to report it to the local police to ensure local councils and the NZ Transport Agency are aware of potentially dangerous stretches of road".

- Stratford Press

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