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Getting Southland drivers winter-ready

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The temperature drop in Southland over the last few weeks is a good reminder to get winter-ready for driving conditions, says Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency.

This includes ensuring you have chains in your car if heading into alpine areas; your wiper blades lights and brakes are clean and working properly; your car tyres and spare tyre have sufficient tread; and you have emergency and safety equipment and additional fuel in your car in case of a breakdown, says Justin Reid, Maintenance Contract Manager for Waka Kotahi in Southland.

Ice and snow can cause hazardous driving conditions on Southland highways so Highways South, the contractor responsible for the management of state highways in Southland, has a comprehensive winter maintenance plan in place.

“Winter weather forecasting and modelling helps our team predict which areas of highways are likely to cause problems, allowing early intervention with grit and de-icing compound CMA (calcium magnesium acetate), snow ploughing and temporary traffic management if necessary,” says Mr Reid. “Weather cameras stationed at known problem areas on SH6, SH93 and SH94 also allow live monitoring of the weather conditions. Our crews are on call 24/7 to respond to issues on the roads.”

Road users are reminded that weather conditions can change quickly, and preparation before a trip is crucial to avoid road closures, breakdowns or other restrictions. 

Road users can call 0800 4 HIGHWAYS (0800 44 44 49) or visit www.journeys.nzta.govt.nz(external link) to find the latest road information.

“We encourage road users to delay travel in poor weather and if possible, to travel in daylight hours when ice and snow is less likely,” says Justin.

Snow-covered Southland highway, Gorge Hill (SH94), in winter 2018

On a non-snowy day – with rumble strips visible on the edges of the highway

These safety tips may help:

  • Allow extra time for your journey
  • Drive to the weather and road conditions, and remember that in bad weather the speed limit may often be too fast for the conditions
  • Don’t brake heavily or accelerate quickly if ice is present
  • Increase your following distance to allow more time to slow down in slippery conditions
  • Be alert and ready for unexpected hazards.

Highways South and Waka Kotahi encourage road users to be prepared, drive to the conditions and stay safe over the winter period.

MetService Severe Weather Warnings and Road Snowfall Warnings(external link)

Plan ahead for a safe, enjoyable journey. Keep up to date with:

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