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Cutting through BP Oamaru staff member Julie McCleery believes pedestrians may be injured or killed if vehicles keep cutting through the service station's forecourt in an effort to avoid waiting at traffic lights in Thames St. PHOTOS: DANIEL BIRCHFIELD

Road safety co-ordinator Elton Crane is “baffled” at the actions of motorists cutting through an Oamaru service station’s forecourt to avoid having to stop at traffic lights.

Last week, a staff member at BP Oamaru, on the corner of Thames and Usk Sts, told the Oamaru Mail several vehicles a day avoided red traffic lights at the intersection when they travelled north on Thames St.

They turned left through the station’s often busy forecourt, then on to Usk St and finally left back on to Thames St, which forms part of State Highway 1.

Service station attendant Daphne Maindonald said the manoeuvre happened frequently, and often at high speed.

“It sort of varies a bit. Some days we get more than others, but there would probably be half-a-dozen a day, sometimes more. Some of them whizz through pretty fast and others are a bit slower.”

She said the tactic had been an issue for “quite some time” and believed it had become more of a problem as a result of increased traffic flow on the stretch of road.

While some tourists were at fault, a large number of locals were also guilty of cutting through.

She feared for the safety of service station staff and customers, as well as pedestrians using the footpaths around the station, including children who scootered or walked to and from nearby St Joseph’s School.

Fellow staff member Julie McCleery said the issue was worse during the height of the tourism season.

She had seen several motorists attempt to enter the exit lane of the McDonald’s Oamaru drive-through, which is next door to the service station, then stop and reverse before “shooting through” the forecourt to get back on to the highway.

“It’s just a matter of time until a kid gets hit,” she said.

Mr Crane, the Waitaki District Council road safety co-ordinator, was made aware of the issue by Mrs McCleery when he filled his vehicle at the service station recently, and was perplexed as to why anyone would cut through the BP forecourt to save a minuscule amount of time.

“This manoeuvre is of concern, since there are pedestrians in this area that will not expect vehicles to pass through on the forecourt,” Mr Crane said.

“Of course, there are also the customers and staff in this area to consider. It is an unnecessary shortcut and I’m baffled as to why people are doing it.

“The solution lies with all road users not to undertake this manoeuvre and passengers to tell drivers that it’s dangerous. Anyone who has done this in the past is placing others at risk. Road safety is everyone’s responsibility.”