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Pre-Xmas travel advice for Wellington holidaymakers

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With the holidays just around the corner and New Zealand already well into the season of Christmas parties, barbecues and other well-earned celebrations, the NZ Transport Agency is urging Wellington drivers to make the right choices to keep safe on the road.

“This is a special time of year, and no holiday should be marred by an avoidable tragedy. Deaths and serious injuries on our roads are not inevitable, and every one of us has the power to make good decisions which will keep the roads safer for everyone,” says NZ Transport Agency Road Safety Director Ernst Zöllner.

Roads north of Wellington are expected to be busy from the middle of this week as people begin to head away for their Christmas break.

“More cars on the road, tired drivers and people driving on unfamiliar roads can make holidays not only more stressful but also more risky. We all need to do the simple things right to get where we’re going safely.

“That means keeping your guard up and keeping your speed down, driving sober, watching for the signs of fatigue and sharing the driving.

“Many of the roads around our holiday destinations are narrow and winding. That makes the consequences of making a mistake potentially more dangerous, and it’s another reason to be patient and slow down.

“These types of roads are not designed for high speeds so adjusting your driving can prevent a small mistake from turning into a tragedy,” Mr Zöllner says.

The Transport Agency has also compiled a snapshot of likely traffic congestion hotspot(external link) based on previous holiday congestion, at www.nzta.govt.nz/hotspots(external link)(external link).

Transport Agency regional performance manager Mark Owen says the hotspot information provides a quick snapshot of highway routes, dates and times where traffic congestion was particularly heavy during the Christmas and New Year holiday period for previous years.

"These are the times where we've previously observed a pattern of heavy holiday traffic. If you want to dodge the delays, then avoid travelling during these times. If you do need to travel when it's busy, leaving extra time up your sleeve can make your trip far less stressful."

To minimise delays most road works, barring emergency repairs, will be stopped from the end of last week to 6 January. Passing lanes will be closed on State Highway 1 near Te Horo on Wednesday and Thursday to help prevent queue jumping during peak holiday traffic, which disrupts traffic flow and makes delays worse.

For personalised information about driving conditions on frequently used routes, motorists can sign up to On The Move (external link)(external link)at ww.onthemove.govt.nz(external link)

Travellers can go to a the Summer Journeys(external link): Be Smart and Plan Ahead web page that tells people what the current journey times are to get to key places. (http://www.nzta.govt.nz/summerjourneys/ (external link))

For real time information on highway conditions and incidents or to report issues on the network visit www.nzta.govt.nz(external link) call 0800 4 HIGHWAYS or follow @nztawaibop on twitter.

The Transport Agency’s top tips for a safe Christmas/New Year holiday on the road

  • Take the time to check your vehicle is safe –tyres/ spare tyre, indicators, windshield wipers, lights.
  • Allow plenty of time – make your journey part of the holiday.
  • Rest stops are important for the driver and passengers.
  • If possible, share the driving.
  • Many drivers will be on unfamiliar roads(external link), so please be patient as we are all in this situation at some stage.
  • Driving in the holidays(external link) information.
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