Grandma gets signs made to slow terrifying drivers through SH1 roadworks

Christchurch Grandma Chantel Owen with her new signs on State Highway 1 near Kaikōura.
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Christchurch Grandma Chantel Owen with her new signs on State Highway 1 near Kaikōura.

A grandma working on the State Highway 1 rebuild has taken her own steps to slow speeding drivers down. 

Christchurch Grandma Chantel Owen says working on the road is "terrifying at times" with drivers acting like the road was a race track. 

Owen has had signs made that say; "Slow down my grandma works here" and helped get them erected along SH1, 50 kilometres south of Kaikōura up to Paparoa Point.

"We've got people out there with families. I just wanted people to have a different view on what they were driving past," Owen said. 

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"Drivers become quite complacent."

The signs are on bright pink and blue backgrounds in a hand written font. Other variations include; "my Dad works here" and "my Mum works here". 

Owen is the NZTA traffic management supervisor for central and north zones of the Kaikōura SH1 rebuild. She is also the grandma of Kyrie, 7 months, and another grandchild is due in August. 

"I just wanted something a little bit less generic than what we've got out there," she said of the signs.

NZTA put the signs up a few weeks ago after Owen pitched her idea. 

Road work has been ongoing since the 2016 earthquake cause significant damage to State Highway 1.
JASPER NIJLAND PHOTOGRAPHY
Road work has been ongoing since the 2016 earthquake cause significant damage to State Highway 1.

Owen was inspired by similar signs used in Christchurch during the 2011 earthquake rebuild. Other variations had also been used on the Otago Peninsula.

Since putting up the signs, they had received really positive feedback, with people yelling out the window asking; "are you the mum?", Owen said. 

The signs sparked up conversation between the roadworkers and drivers.

"It makes it really personal."

Drivers were being a lot more cautious, she said. 

"Please slow down my Dad works here" reads one of the signs just north of Kaikōura.
SUPPLIED
"Please slow down my Dad works here" reads one of the signs just north of Kaikōura.

"They are slowing down. You still get the complacent ones that think that because there's no activity going on that there's nothing happening, but that's absolutely not true. 

"We wouldn't put temporary speed limits in place or close a lane if it wasn't absolutely necessary."

Owen's message to drivers is "be aware and be alert and appreciate what's going on around you and follow all of our signs".

An New Zealand Transport Agency spokeswoman Frances Adank said where temporary traffic management had been in place for a while, such as on stretches of SH1 following the earthquake, drivers often got a little blasé.

​"So we need to remind them why we still need them to slow down, keep the site fresh and well marked out, make eye contact with drivers wherever we can. Give a friendly wave," she said. 

"At some sites, we ask the police to park up nearby as a reminder that there will be consequences if people speed through a site."

Earlier this week, police clocked a driver doing 99kmh in a 30kmh area on SH94 in the Milford Sound. The driver was fined $650 and lost their licence instantly, she said.

Three workers doing road maintenance were killed in a four-truck crash near Whākatāne in February. A man has been charged in relation to that crash and will appear in court on March 26.

Some signs are on bright blue backgrounds.
SUPPLIED
Some signs are on bright blue backgrounds.

State Highway 1 upcoming road closures

* There is work occurring on the Weld Pass in Marlborough on Monday night, 18 March, this is weather dependent. Cars and light vehicles would be able to pass through this site at the top of every hour overnight but with potential delays of 50 minutes.

Some permit holders would be detoured on Monday night onto State Highways 6, 63, 65 and 7 (the Alternate Route, Picton to Christchurch, via the Lewis Pass to Waipara) during the Weld Pass work. Wet weather would postpone the work to the next dry night.

* The NZTA's highway maintenance team is milling and sealing an area of highway near the Okarahia Stream, south of Kaikōura, on the Hundalee hills from Sunday night March 17 to Thursday night March 21.

Drivers will be detoured around the site onto the Inland Road (Route 70) on the Kaikōura side and onto the Leader Road, near Cheviot, on the south side. This will add to the journey distance.

This work on two different sites – one a tight bend and at the nearby stream - requires a full highway closure overnight from 9pm to 7am for five nights.

The Marlborough Express