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Life in slow lane on Remutakas

Slow vehicle lanes have replaced passing lanes on State Highway 2 Remutaka Hill in an effort to “promote safer driving on a route that has a high crash rate” after the decision to add them was finalised only a week before night closures began.

NZTA Waka Kotahi lower North Island regional manager Mark Owen said many of the passing lanes that were replaced were too short and on corners.

“Slow vehicle bays allow slower vehicles holding up traffic to pull over and allow others to pass,” he said.

Owen said that when investigations and assessments find areas for improvement, NZTA can make changes to the state highway network without public consultation.

“The safety of road users is a priority for NZTA Waka Kotahi,” he said.

NZTA considers slow vehicle lanes to be more appropriate for “challenging road environments like the Remutaka Hill”.

When the prioritisation of installing slow vehicle lanes over altering the speed limit was questioned by the Times-Age, Owen noted that NZTA is still waiting for directive from the new Transport Minister.

“While State Highway 2 Remutaka Hill does have a 100kmh speed limit – it is a speed limit, not a target,” Owen said.

“It is vital people drive according to the conditions and adjust their speed to the narrow and winding nature of the road.”

Automobile Association [AA] Wairarapa chair Craig Bowyer said the organisation had been lobbying NZTA for slow vehicle lanes “for over a decade”, although the organisation is disappointed that one of the preexisting slow vehicle lanes on the north side of the Hill has now been removed.

Bowyer said that slow drivers often don’t realise they’re going slow and holding up traffic, and that frustration can boil over into poor driver behaviour – “one of the biggest killers” on our roads.

“There are lots of people who do the right thing, but there are some people who are totally oblivious to their surroundings and endangering others,” he said.

Meetings, committees, and bureaucratic processes exacerbated the long wait for the slow vehicle bays.

“We need to make sure that people know that they are causing frustration for other motorists,” Bowyer said.

AA has also been lobbying for speed changes in the region, including SH2 between Featherston and Remutaka being returned to 100kmh – because, Bowyer said, “Slowing rural areas down is slowing the rural economy down.”

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