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Wandering cows put road users at risk

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South Island farmers are being urged to keep a more watchful eye on what their stock get up to - particularly at night.

South Island farmers are being urged to keep a more watchful eye on what their stock get up to – particularly at night.

During the last week there have been three crashes at night on State Highway 1 involving vehicles and cattle  in South Canterbury alone, and it’s “a miracle” that no-one has been hurt so far, says NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) operations manager Peter Connors.

Fortunately all three incidents involved trucks rather than cars, which have meant dead cows but no injuries to people. The usual tally for such crashes is one or two a month, and while this is bad enough, this recent spike is very worrying, Mr Connors says.

“Cars can come off much worse in an incident with a cattle beast, and it’s very fortunate that this recent spate has involved just trucks.”

Mr Connors says many of these types of incidents often involve black animals, happen at night and in unlit areas of highway. “Therefore the chances of road users seeing the animals in time to avoid a crash are virtually nil.”

Often the stock is getting out through either open gates or poor fences along driveways or side roads, and wandering on to SH1 from there.
“We urge farmers to be particularly vigilant and ensure their stock is well contained at all times. Stock wandering along the state highway is putting the lives of road users at risk.”

He says it can take up to an hour in the middle of the night for contractors or stock control officers to get to the scene of an incident after it has been reported to move any animals, which means another hour in which road users are at risk after a crash.

NZTA has a policy of recovering costs associated with callouts from farmers, but points out there are also wider liability issues of which most farmers should be aware. “Above all else, good stock management practices and simple preventative measures can make a big difference to the safety of highways and roads in rural areas”, said Mr Connors.

For more information please contact

Peter Connors
Operations Manager
03 372 1820
021 883 803
peter.connors@nzta.govt.nz

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