With the holidays just around the corner Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency and Police are urging drivers to make safe driving decisions on the roads over the summer break.
“We’re coming to the end of what has been a long and difficult year for many, and we all deserve a safe and relaxing holiday. This is a special time of year, and we don’t want anyone’s holiday to be marred by an avoidable tragedy on the roads,” says NZ Transport Agency General Manager Safety, Health and Environment Greg Lazzaro.
Since 2015, an average of 11 people have been killed and over 400 injured on New Zealand roads during the Christmas-New Year holiday break.
“Deaths and serious injuries on our roads are not inevitable, and we shouldn’t accept that serious crashes are just another part of the holidays. We’re all human and we can all make mistakes, but every one of us also has the power to make the right decisions which will keep the roads safer for everyone.
National Road Policing Manager Acting Superintendent Gini Welch says with more cars on the road, there is naturally more risk, so it’s more important than ever that people are focused when they’re driving so that everybody can arrive alive.
“We all need to do the simple things to keep safe on the road. That means watching your following distance and keeping your speed down. It also means resting before you set off on your journey, and sharing the driving if you can.
“Driving tired can be just as dangerous as driving drunk, neither of which we want to see on our roads this summer. We need drivers to be fresh and alert for the duration of their journey.
“We know at this time of year people are out socialising, and spur of the moment drinks with friends could lead to people making poor decisions. We ask that people are conscious of the potential consequences of each choice they make.”
Waka Kotahi is also encouraging people to plan their journeys in advance, and allow plenty of extra time to get to holiday destinations.
“To minimise delays most non-essential road works on state highways outside of the main centres will be paused from 23 December to 5 January, and won’t resume again until the second week of January. But even with this non-essential work paused, the roads will be very busy over the holidays. There will be some delays, and we all need to factor that into our plans. If you’re feeling frustrated, pull over, take a break, and stretch your legs.
“Trying to ‘make up lost time’ by speeding and unsafe overtaking is a recipe for disaster, and it puts everyone using the road at risk,” Mr Lazzaro says.
“It’s not a race, you’re on holiday, so take your time, and be courteous to other drivers. Everybody is just trying to get where they’re going safely, so for everyone’s safety, please slow down and arrive alive,” says Ms Welch.
Drive safely, arrive alive.
The message from NZ Police and Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency to road users this year is simple – arrive alive.
Plan ahead. Make sure your vehicle is safe to drive and has a current WoF. Check your tyre pressure, lights and indicators, windscreen and wipers before you head off, and plan ahead to avoid peak traffic where you can. Build in extra time for rest stops or sightseeing breaks along the way. Waka Kotahi has crunched the numbers from previous holiday periods to produce a great interactive map which can help you avoid some of the busiest times on our busiest roads.
Don’t drink and drive. Your judgement and reaction times behind the wheel begin to deteriorate after even one drink. Keep it simple – if you’re going to drink, don’t drive. Also be aware of any medication you’re taking that might affect your driving.
Watch out for fatigue. Long trips are tiring and fatigue can be deadly behind the wheel. Get a good night’s sleep beforehand, plan in advance where you’ll take breaks, and share the driving if you can.
Slow down and drive to the conditions. This isn’t just about the speed limit, it’s also about the weather conditions, the road you’re on, the traffic, your vehicle and load, your following distance, and adjusting your driving for wet and windy conditions.
Keep your cool. Holiday driving can be frustrating with busy roads, stifling heat, and restless kids in the car. So please, be courteous and patient on the roads. Don’t get provoked by other drivers’ aggressive behaviour, and wait to overtake until you get to a passing lane or can see plenty of clear road ahead of you to do it safely. And be sure to take enough games, books, or electronics to keep the kids occupied along the way.
Buckle up. Don’t let your family holiday be marred by tragedy simply because someone didn’t buckle up. If you’re the driver, you are legally responsible for making sure all passengers under the age of 15 are securely restrained with either a safety belt or child restraint. Children must be properly restrained by an approved child restraint until their 7th birthday.
Improving safety on New Zealand roads is a top priority for Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency. Waka Kotahi is committed to Vision Zero, which aspires to a New Zealand where no-one is killed or seriously injured on our roads. Waka Kotahi and Police are working together with local government and others to deliver Road to Zero, the government’s road safety strategy for 2020-2030. Road to Zero aims to reduce deaths and serious injuries on our roads by 40 percent over the next 10 years.