Police in the Wellington District and the NZ Transport Agency are reminding those travelling for the long weekend to exercise patience and courtesy so they can arrive home alive, and to plan ahead for their journeys.
Inspector Donna Laban, Road Policing Manager, says officers in Wellington City, Porirua, the Kapiti Coast, Hutt Valley and the Wairarapa will be concentrating on the main state highways as people head on holiday and return. Police will focus on the known pressure points in the District including the Wellington Urban Motorway, SH1 along the Kapiti Coast and SH2 including the Rimutaka Hill Road.
"Congestion will be the big problem getting out on Friday afternoon and again on Monday when people are returning," Inspector Laban says. "Patience is the key. Avoid the frustration factor by planning your journey, giving yourself some extra time and taking regular breaks".
She says the roads north are traditionally busy from 3pm through to about 9pm on Friday with heavy volumes heading home from about 2pm on Monday.
Road policing units, including Highway Patrol, Speed Cameras and the Traffic Alcohol Group will be very visible throughout the weekend.
The official Labour Weekend holiday period starts at 4pm on Friday 25 October and ends at 6am on Tuesday 29 October.
"Last year at Labour Weekend, fortunately there were no fatal crashes in the Wellington District and we want to make sure it stays that way this long weekend" says Inspector Laban.
The Transport Agency is urging people to check their vehicles and drive to the conditions, particularly with the likelihood of blustery and wet weather over the long weekend.
"Get your car, truck, camper van or motorcycle checked before heading off. If this windy weather carries on, then take extra care if you’re using a high sided vehicle like a campervan, or if you’re on a motorbike or bicycle. And when the rain comes down, please take extra care on corners and watch your speeds and following distances, because wet roads mean less control," says Regional Performance Manager Mark Owen.
He urges motorists to make sure they have had a decent night’s sleep and that they feel ready and alert to drive.
"Remember that alcohol can affect you—even on the next day—so keep it to a minimum when you’ve got a big journey ahead of you."
Closing the passing lanes to keep traffic moving
During peak travel times, the Transport Agency will be closing the SH 1 northbound passing lanes north of Te Horo, as well as the southbound passing lane north of Otaki. The lanes will be closed at the following times (depending on traffic flows):
Police and the Transport Agency will also be working with the Police to monitor congestion through Otaki. If things get too backed up, further temporary traffic management measures will be put in place to improve traffic flows here.
Mr Owen says passing lanes are closed during holiday weekends to make our roads safer and to improve traffic flows.
"Passing lanes only work when traffic is flowing freely. During busy holiday traffic, vehicles tend to get backed up by the heavy traffic volumes, rather than vehicles travelling too slowly up ahead. When traffic is heavy, people may try to jump the queue then attempt to merge back into the traffic jam. This causes people to brake suddenly, which can upset the gradual but steady traffic flow, and cause nose to tail crashes."
A holiday from roadworks too
The Transport Agency will stop all road works on the state highway network from 12.30pm on Friday 25 October until 9.00am on Tuesday 29 October. This does not include any work needed for emergency purposes and routine maintenance activities.
The Transport Agency provides a range of free information on their website or by calling a freephone number so motorists can identify what the highway conditions are like before they set off on their trips, there are also tips about how to check your vehicle to ensure it is safe before you head out on the road.”
This information is available at www.nzta.govt.nz/traffic(external link) or by calling the NZTA freephone 0800 4HIGHWAYS (0800 44 44 49). You can also follow the @nztawgtn twitter feed for updates on road conditions, delays and closures.
The Transport Agency also uses other technology to provide information to enable drivers to make better informed choices about their travel. On The Move is a free service which enables people to sign up for information about crashes, road works and driving conditions on their frequently used routes - to sign up, go to www.onthemove.govt.nz(external link).