Stop-go operators at risk from inconsiderate drivers

3 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineJanuary 7, 2020

Stop/go operators are a common sight on the state highways over summer at emergency or planned road maintenance sites. They‘re on the roadside all day, in all weather, in their hi vis gear, directing the flow of traffic with a stop/go sign, a walkie talkie and a smile. 

NZ Transport Agency Central South Island system manager, Peter Connors, says it can be a dangerous job.

“A few road cones and a stop/go sign are no protection from a speeding vehicle. We‘re asking all motorists to please slow down and keep to temporary speed limits.”

Connors says the NZTA is always concerned whenever stop/go operators report nearly being hit by vehicles passing too close or speeding through the work site.

“This is unacceptable driving behaviour because it puts everyone at risk – not just the stop/go operator, but other crew members and road users as well.

“Our workers are mothers, fathers, brother and sisters, just doing their job. They go to work each day expecting to be able to go home safely at the end of it. Safety is our highest priority, but we can‘t keep our people safe if other people show no regard for their wellbeing.”

Connors says the point of a stop/go operation is to try to keep traffic moving in both directions when the state highway is reduced to one lane.

“We try to keep delays to a minimum but sometimes traffic builds up. We want to get people on their way again as quickly as possible.”

This summer the NZTA is under way with its biggest maintenance renewal programme for the last 10 years, to keep the state highways safe and resilient.

“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,” says Connors.

“If you are stopped by a stop/go operator, use the time to pause and relax, have a stretch or wind down the windows for some fresh air. You‘ll soon be on your way again.

“No one ever gets to their destination faster by abusing or shouting at a stop/go operator.”