Wandering stock is posing a significant hazard to drivers in Northland and the NZ Transport Agency is reminding landowners of the need to ensure land is securely fenced to stop animals straying.
The Transport Agency’s Journey Manager for Northland, Jacqui Hori-Hoult, says her office receives more complaints about wandering stock than any other highway incident with about 50 calls a month.
“When farm animals escape and stray on to a highway or road, they become a significant danger to all road users,” Ms Hori-Hoult says.
In the five years between 2008/12, there were 146 crashes in Northland involving farms animals that had strayed on to highways and roads. Four crashes involved serious injury, 21 involved minor injuries, and 121 were non-injury.
Ms Hori-Hoult says the Transport Agency is writing to landowners located in areas where there have been incidents of wandering stock to remind them of their responsibilities.
“People who own stock have to ensure that land is securely fenced to prevent animals straying on to the highway. Beside an economic loss if an animal is injured, stock owners can face prosecution from the Police or the risk of a civil case from someone injured in a crash.
Ms Hori-Hoult says the Transport Agency may also recover costs for herding or impounding animals that have strayed on to highway reserves.
In the Far North, Whangarei and Kaipara districts there are about 750 kilometres of state highways and 6200 kilometres of local roads – most of them located in rural areas.
“The arrival of Spring this month means the tourism season is not far away when there will be a rise in the number of visitors unfamiliar with those rural state highways and roads. Drivers should always expect the unexpected, particularly when driving in the country, but everyone, including landowners, has a responsibility to help keep our highways and roads safe,” says Ms Hori-Hoult.