If you take a drive through rural Te Puna this weekend you might notice some unusual road signs asking you to slow down. They are the work of residents, young and old, fed up with the number of crashes happening outside their homes in the middle of the night. Reporter Kiri Gillespie talks to some of those behind the signs and finds out what else they are doing to try to get drivers to slow down. Western Bay of Plenty residents have become so concerned at the spate of crashes on their roads, they have erected their own safety signage calling for drivers to slow down.
The signs have been put up by residents living in Te Puna's Minden Rd and Florence Lane.
They also submitted a petition to Western Bay of Plenty District Council this week. They want the speed limit of 80km/h dropped to 50km/h.
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Florence Lane resident Jo Cameron said people were fed up with the number of crashes damaging property in the area and people needed to slow down.
"We have had to pay for our boundary fences to be re-erected twice. Our trees have been broken and smashed down. Our pets and stock have been frightened."
The 80km/h zone begins 250 metres before the first of three blind corners and had seen many crashes including one last week involving a group of young girls, Cameron said.
Cameron and her neighbours had been talking after afterwards about how worried they were for the next crash, where the occupants might not be so lucky.
"We've been moaning about it for a long time and I thought, 'let's take some action'. That's when I started going up and down the road and talking to residents who had a myriad of stories of crashes over the years.
"And all of them said it was getting worse. That's the thing. There are more and more developments going on and we have a lot more traffic and cyclists but the road is not really designed for that."
Cameron said warning signs ahead of two blind corners were worn and no longer reflective at night when most crashes happened.
It was only a matter of time before someone was seriously injured or worse and urgent action by the council was needed, she said.
Florence Lane resident Merrhis Majurey said she and her husband had only lived at their place for a year but have already had three crashes on their property boundary.
"It means that in the middle of the night we have to go screaming up there and make sure we find people and call 111 and all of that."
Majurey said reducing the speed on the road made sense.
"It really needs it. The speed limit they've got there is ridiculous. They go from 50km/h to 80km/h to go around those corners. That's just crazy."
Te Puna Heartlands' Rowena Pearce supported the residents' actions.
"Concerns about the safety of Minden Rd are of long standing, and very little has been done."
Western Bay council acting group manager of infrastructure services Blaise Williams said the council received the petition from 14 residents yesterday morning.
The council's roading team will investigate the matter from next week, he said.
It was unlikely, however, the speed limit on Minden Rd and Florence Lane would be treated individually. It would more likely be part of a wider speed review process, which had been delayed this year.
"When council does its bylaw review speed limits on all local roads in the district would be considered in line with the limits determined by NZTA for State Highway 2."
Western Bay Mayor Garry Webber said the NZ Transport Agency had "dropped the ball" with its own speed limit review this year, creating a significant delay for the council to review local roads.
The speed limit review would now be a matter for the new council from as early as next month, Webber said.
NZ Transport Agency's Ross I'Anson said local councils were able to review their own roads, "however, if there are adjoining sections of state highway that the council consider appropriate to be included in any speed reviews we will work with them on that process".
Police were unavailable for comment before deadline last night.