“Drivers need to understand that while 100 kilometres per hour is the maximum legal limit for many rural roads, it is often not safe to drive at this speed,” say Megan Jolly, road Safety co-ordinator for Waikato and Waipa District Councils.
“Rural roads are often narrow, with little room each side and loose surfaces. They can be undulating with limited visibility.”
They often feature hazards such as farm vehicles and stock.
Crash statistics for the Waikato show why drivers need to slow down. Between 2008 and 2012, 21 per cent of injury crashes in the Waikato region involved drivers travelling too fast for the conditions. These crashes resulted in 116 deaths, and 370 serious injuries.
New billboards highlight a number of ‘high risk’ rural roads in the two districts. In the Waikato district these have been placed on Highway 22 between Tuakau and Raglan, the Tuakau-Port Waikato road and Hakarimata Road.
The councils share a Fieldays display this week, which provides an interactive exercise to identify hazards on rural roads and demonstrate how they differ to highways.
The aim is to get motorists thinking about what they need to do to deal with the different conditions.
“The message to motorists from this campaign is clear: Slow down on rural roads – even on straight stretches.”