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Waitaki District Council road safety co-ordinator Jason Evered. PHOTO: SALLY BROOKER

The Waitaki District Council has a new road safety co-ordinator, who has taken over from the long-serving Elton Crane. Oamaru Mail reporter Sally Brooker meets Jason Evered.

Q What attracted you to the role of road safety co-ordinator?

I expect when I leave home in the morning to arrive safe and sound back at the end of my day with my family; we all deserve and should expect that to happen. This role allows me look at how safe our roading network is and how we are using it and make suggestions and changes to make it safer for all.

Q What proportion of the job is based on children’s safety?

Children are a major focus of the role. We all know what a bundle of energy children are and how dangerous roads can be to them. Everything I do will have children (and other road users) in mind, but children do need some extra input, not only from teachers, but also parents need to know how to help children keep safe around roads.

Q How does Waitaki’s geography affect its road safety?

We have 1800km of roads which the Waitaki District Council controls and a further near 300km of State Highways that are New Zealand Transport Authority (NZTA) controlled. The major roads like SH1 are high-use roads and have some very large vehicles driving on them. We have lots of urban roads and these are being shared more by all the community, young and old. We also have unsealed gravel roads that come with their own set of challenges. Along with the roads we also face various challenges throughout the year with different weather conditions. Ohau is very different from Oamaru at this time of year, for example. However, our safety messages are relevant to all roads, be they Waitaki District Council controlled or NZTA.

Q Does this district have similar issues to the rest of New Zealand or are there specific concerns here?

Throughout New Zealand each district should have a Road Safety Action plan and this is based on the facts and figures of what is happening on our roads. As I write our new plan, the specific issues we have here appear to be around fatigue (driving tired), crashes at intersections, and young/inexperienced drivers.

Q Has the Covid-19 lockdown led to any complacency, because the roads were quieter when many families were out on their daily walks and bike rides?

I think of it around riding a bike – I was great aged 10 years old, I was certainly a bit wobbly getting back on the saddle aged north of 40. So everyone, please pay the utmost attention when getting behind the wheel for the first time in a while. What has been interesting is the number of people out walking and cycling throughout the lockdown. I know I now recognise a lot more faces from my neighbourhood, as I got out on a daily basis to get some fresh air and exercise.

Q What are your priorities for the rest of this year?

I would like to work with our local groups, such as Waitaki Safer Roads, who do some great work in the community. I will be looking to work with businesses around the district that operate shift hours where people could be driving into or away from work tired. The New Zealand Transport Agency has a new safety strategy called “Road to Zero” and has several targets around reducing serious crashes and deaths. Although it shouldn’t be needed, I will also be promoting the basics that we all should know – such as driving faster increases the chances of any crash resulting in more serious injuries, or distracted drivers (using phones) is not a very clever thing to do.

Q How long have you been in Oamaru?

I have worked fulltime in Oamaru for about four years now, but part-time for about four years before then. So, my face has been around for nearly eight years in the district.

Q What do you like to do outside of work hours?

I have two children, two dogs, two cats, two chickens (notice a pattern here) and an old house that needs painting and renovating. I enjoy watching all types of sports and although I may complain to my wife, who does struggle to get me out and about, I do enjoy exploring New Zealand through walks, especially when I can see the sea.