Two "near-misses" involving road workers at sites on major Northland highways has senior officials warning motorists to slow down before someone is hit.
Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency Northland System manager Jacqui Hori-Hoult said stop/go operators were a common sight on the state highways during summer in all weather, in their high visability gear, directing the flow of traffic with their signs.
While it did not look like a dangerous job workers at SH1, near Hikurangi, and on SH15 were they narrowly escaped being hit by vehicles.
"Just before Christmas we had two incidents where stop/go operators reported "near-misses" as they were nearly hit by vehicles passing too close or speeding through the work site," Hori-Hoult said.
"This is unacceptable driving behaviour because it puts everyone at risk – not just the stop/go operator who is the first person motorists encounter as they approach a work site, but other crew members and road users as well.
"These are mothers, fathers, brother and sisters just doing a job. They go to work each day expecting to be able to go home safely at the end of the day. Safety is our highest priority, but we can't keep our people safe if other people selfishly show no regard for their well-being."
Hori-Hoult said a few road cones and a sign offered no protection from a speeding vehicle and urged motorists to slow down and keep to the temporary speed limit.
Abuse was another hazard the road workers were subjected to.
In one recent case a man got out of his vehicle and was shouting and waving his arms around like he wanted to start a fight with the female operator who was on her own at the time.
Such incidents are reported to police.
"No one ever gets to their destination faster by abusing or shouting at a stop/go operator," Hori-Hoult said.
The job of the operator was to keep traffic moving in both directions when the state highway was reduced to one lane.
"We try to keep delays to a minimum but sometimes traffic builds up. We try to get people on their way as quickly as possible."
Road workers began work last week after time off during the busy holiday season.
"The summer months are our busiest time of year for road resurfacing and repairs as we try to take advantage of the dry conditions and long sunny days. This work is essential for the safety and resilience of the state highway network, so we ask motorists to be patient and understanding."