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Motorists encouraged to plan ahead for safe winter on Waikato roads

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Waikato motorists are being encouraged to plan ahead to minimise delays and keep themselves and other road users safe, as winter weather sets in.

Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency Waikato System Manager Cara Lauder says while we’ve had a summer that has seemed to keep going, we’re now seeing a drop in overnight temperatures, and more cold, wet, windy days.

“The change in weather is a good prompt to think about safe winter driving. Ice, fog, rain and snow can make for treacherous road conditions.

“Allow extra time for your journeys and drive to the road and weather conditions.

“Small isolated shaded areas of road can be icy too, not just obvious areas like the Desert Road.

“It’s a good idea to maintain a greater following distance between your vehicle and the one in front, and to slow down and be prepared for unexpected hazards.

“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.”

Ms Lauder says people should also consider ensuring their cell phones are 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.

Waka Kotahi’s website contains more easy tips for safe winter driving: nzta.govt.nz/winterjourneys(external link)

“These tips are particularly important heading into the long Queen’s Birthday holiday weekend. combined with the relaxing of COVID 19 restrictions. We are likely to see much more traffic on our roads,” says Ms Lauder.

“If you’re heading away, please take extra care on the roads; and be patient and kind to other motorists. Many of us haven’t been driving in a while and could be a bit ‘rusty’.

“The holiday weekend also takes in ‘Gypsy Day’ or ‘Moving Day’, which means there will be a lot of stock movement across rural roads, so if you are travelling home we remind motorists to be aware of this and expect minor delays.”

In the Waikato, delays are predicted on State Highway 2 Maramarua. Further delays are predicted on State Highway 1 in Taupiri and again at Karapiro. There’s also likely to be congestion on State Highway 1 at Tirau and on State Highway 25A in the Coromandel.

“Travel times can be impacted by incidents, weather and even driver behaviour, as well as traffic. Check Waka Kotahi’s Journey Planner(external link) before you leave for accurate information about current road and traffic conditions,” Ms Lauder says.

“The good news is that road works shouldn’t be adding to any delays. Most work stops during busy holiday travel periods like Queen’s Birthday weekend, to minimise disruption to people’s journeys.

“Please, stay safe, plan ahead and have a great Queen’s Birthday holiday.”

Winter driving tips

  • Check weather and travel conditions on highways before you start your trip and on breaks throughout your journey - use www.journeys.nzta.govt.nz(external link) or call 0800 4 HIGHWAYS (0800 44 44 49).
  • Ensure your car is safe and equipped: spare tyre, warrant of fitness 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 cell 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.  https://www.nzta.govt.nz/safety/driving-safely/winter-driving/(external link)

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