Drivers speeding through Bay of Plenty roadworks risk longer travel delays for all as traffic officials consider full road closures to improve safety.
Western Bay of Plenty police say they are constantly faced with drivers ignoring speed limits at roadworks sites, and workers often feel unsettled knowing there isn't much to protect them should a speeding driver lose control.
With spring and summer resurfacing programmes only just beginning - and hundreds of millions being poured into highway upgrades in the Bay of Plenty - police, Waka Kotahi New Zealand Transport Agency and contractors are calling on drivers to do better across their region.
Last year, Bay of Plenty road workers Dudley Soul Raroa, 55, David Eparaima, also 55, and Haki Hiha, 40, died at their worksite when they were crushed after their large work truck was shunted and rolled onto them in a culvert.
Western Bay of Plenty police acting Sergeant Craig Madden said they were "continuously" addressing drivers' speeding at roadworks sites.
"It is very unsettling when you are at your place of work and cars are passing by at speed with nothing between you and the vehicles except a plastic cone," Madden told the Bay of Plenty Times.
"Even when vehicles are travelling at 50km/h it stirs up dust and can flick stones up, making breathing uncomfortable and injuries possible."
Waka Kotahi's Bay of Plenty system manager Rob Campbell said road workers between Waihī to Ōmokoroa "regularly observe drivers' speed into our sites".
He said these drivers "have to take evasive action when they come around a corner and come upon traffic travelling at the temporary speed limit".
A mobile speed camera was set up beside State Highway 2 roadworks between Katikati and Tauranga in June and within the first five hours, 157 people were caught speeding.
That stretch of highway is considered one of New Zealand's most dangerous roads, having claimed at least 60 lives within the past 20 years.
"If safe speeds are not observed through our roadwork sites, we may need to use more restrictive temporary traffic management, such as road closures, which will have a greater impact on travel time," Campbell said.
"Safety is our highest priority, but we can't keep our people safe if other people show no regard."
He said many people "overestimate the time they would lose if they drove at a slower speed".
And even when road workers weren't on-site, speed limits were in place to protect road users.
"We need to consider reduced visibility and temporary surfaces at night, in bad weather and for all vulnerable users too," he said, referring to motorcyclists, cyclists and pedestrians.
"We need to identify any hazards and alert drivers to changes that they may not be expecting."
Western Bay of Plenty police ran a covert operation in response to unsafe driving at roadworks at the "Black Stump" near Te Puke last year.
Madden said the results were "disappointing and spread across the board of offending vehicle types".
"We advertised in a media release that we would be running this operation in advance and even had a radio station present feeding the result back to their listeners. The road workers stated they noticed a reduction in the speed after this but it is often only
Major Bay of Plenty roadworks projects under way
• $146m Baypark to Bayfair Link
• $101m State Highway 2 Waihī to Ōmokoroa improvements
• $34.5m Te Ngae Junction to Paengaroa
• $15m State Highway 5 Tārukenga to Ngongotahā safety improvements
• $17m Rotorua Eastern Corridor Stage One
• Waka Kotahi New Zealand Transport Agency will also resurface 250 sites across the Bay of Plenty between now and the end of summer