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Ice, ice, maybe? Central North Island motorists asked to take care on icy roads

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Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency is encouraging motorists to take care, drive to the conditions and allow more time for their journeys due to the possibility of ice on Central North Island state highways.

Waikato System Manager Cara Lauder says after a southerly blast and heavy snowfall like we’ve just had, the cold air and clearing skies often combine to create freezing conditions, which can lead to ice on the road.

“Winter roads require winter driving. Black ice can be hard to see and motorists should take particular care in shaded areas and on bridges.

“Consider leaving later in the morning to allow ice to thaw or earlier in the afternoon before ice has formed, and maintain a greater following distance between your vehicle and the one in front.

“Slow down and drive to the conditions.”

Waka Kotahi uses a combination of CMA (calcium magnesium acetate, a coating which reduces ice) and grit on the roads during winter to manage ice on the roads and our contractors are out applying this, often late at night and early in the morning, so motorists are asked to take care and look out for road workers.

Ms Lauder says a safe vehicle, equipped for the conditions, is also important.

“Ensure your car is safe, roadworthy and well equipped for winter driving, with a safe spare tyre, lights, brakes and windscreen-wipers all working, and a clean windscreen inside and out.

“It’s also a good idea to make sure your cell phone is well charged, and to carry a car phone charger or power bank. You should also carry blankets, snacks and bottle of water in case of an emergency or breakdown.”

Visit the Waka Kotahi Journey Planner(external link) website for up to date information on road closures, detours, road works, traffic and delays.

Winter driving tips

  • Check journeys.nzta.govt.nz(external link) for weather and travel conditions on highways before you start your trip and on breaks throughout your journey or call 0800 4 HIGHWAYS (0800 44 44 49).
  • Ensure your car is safe and well-equipped: spare tyre, warrant of fitness is up-to-date, lights, brakes and wind-wipers all working, clean windscreen inside and out, check tyre treads to ensure good grip.
  • If you are travelling long distances, share the driving and have regular breaks.
  • Wear your seat belt throughout the journey and check your passengers have theirs clicked in too.
  • Driving on roads that are exposed to snow and ice can be treacherous, so slow down and drive to the conditions, not the allowable/legal speed limit. Increase the following distance between you and the vehicle ahead.
  • Be prepared when travelling in case of delays on the road, particularly in alpine conditions. Make sure you have warm clothes/food/water/charged mobile phone. In an emergency, phone 111. Bear in mind some parts of the highway have no mobile phone coverage.
  • Learn about winter driving, including how to get your vehicle ready and if you are driving in an area where chains may be needed, practise putting them on before you go so you are not caught out.

More winter driving tips and advice

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

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