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Plan your journey to stay safe on the highways this summer

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The NZ Transport Agency is urging Canterbury/West Coast holidaymakers to take the time to plan their journeys this Christmas/Summer season to stay safe and avoid delays.

With many people packing up to head away on holiday in the next couple of days, the Transport Agency’s Canterbury/West Coast Journey Manager Lee Wright says motorists need to take care on long journeys, particularly on unfamiliar routes where the driving conditions and terrain may be different.

“People travelling during the holiday period need to be aware that the risks are significantly higher, with more vehicles on the road, people driving unfamiliar routes, driver fatigue and other stressful elements, such as heat, delays and noise from excited children.

“People in holiday mode may also be less vigilant about not drink driving, keeping to a safe speed, not driving when tired and always buckling up. By staying alert and giving the road the attention and respect it deserves, you can increase safety for you, your passengers and other road users.”

Ms Wright says the Transport Agency has stopped all non-emergency road works over the official Christmas/New Year holiday period, however, later in January motorists are likely to encounter road works as road crews take advantage of warmer weather and lighter traffic volumes to resurface the highways.

“We ask that drivers exercise patience when they come across road works and strictly adhere to the speed limits. These are in place to protect the safety of the road workers and ensure we limit damage to any works already under construction.”

For the latest information on what is happening on our highways phone 0800 4 HIGHWAYS or visit the website: www.highwayinfo.govt.nz(external link)

The Transport Agency had also crunched data from last year’s Christmas New Year to compile a list of likely holiday congestion hot spots(external link) - to help drivers plan ahead to avoid the queues, and is offering the ‘top tips’ below for a safe holiday journey.

Getting there in one piece – top tips for safe holiday driving

Plan ahead.  Get your vehicle checked before you head out, plan to avoid peak traffic where you can and give yourself enough time to take plenty of rest or sightseeing breaks along the way.  It’s your holiday after all, so why not make the journey an enjoyable part of it?

Drive to the conditions.  This isn’t just about weather conditions—it’s about the road you’re on, the traffic, your vehicle and load, your speed, your following distance, and adjusting your driving for wet and windy conditions

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 along the way, and be aware of any medication you’re taking that might affect your driving.

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 while 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 enough clear road ahead of you to do it safely.  And be sure to take enough games, books, DVDs 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.

Don’t drink and drive.  The alcohol limit for adult drivers is now lower, and your judgement and reaction times begin to deteriorate after even one drink. Keep it simple – if you’re going to drink, don’t drive.

Find out about making every journey safer by visiting www.saferjourneys.govt.nz(external link)

For more information please contact:

Jan McCarthy
Media Manager - Christchurch

T: 03 964 2885
M: 021 427 442
E: jan.mccarthy@nzta.govt.nz

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