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Start your holiday online this Easter

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The NZ Transport Agency is advising motorists travelling on Waikato and Bay of Plenty roads to start their Easter break online and plan ahead to avoid joining the holiday traffic queues.

Easter 2015 coincides with the start of the school holidays and traffic is expected to be heavy on roads and highways around both regions from 3pm tomorrow.

The Transport Agency’s  Regional Performance Manager, Karen Boyt says on some highways, such as SH1 between Auckland to Waikato and SH2 Mangatawhiri, vehicle numbers are estimated to more than double as people race to relax at holiday hot spots.

Ms Boyt says checking out the Transport Agency’s website before packing up the car can help people plan ahead and choose the best routes and times to travel to reduce delays and stress.

“Our travel team have put together graphs which show peak public holiday traffic times to help people decide when to leave home,” she says.

“This information is on our website, along with our real time highway information service which will tell you whether there are any travel warnings or closures ahead. People can also get the latest road updates by following the Transport Agency on Facebook and Twitter.

“Picking up your mouse or your smartphone before you pick up your keys and planning your journey could save you a lot stress and unnecessary time on the road.”

The Transport Agency will play their part in reducing delays by stopping road works on key holiday routes between the two regions from 12pm Thursday April 2 until the early hours of Tuesday April 7.

Contractors will be on standby to manage congestion at busy intersections, such as SH2 and Sh26 in Paeroa at the Criterion Bridge, and a number of passing lanes will be monitored and if appropriate may be removed on Easter Monday.

Ms Boyt says closing passing lanes may seem like an unusual move, but it actually reduces travel time and improves safety.

“Passing lanes are great when traffic is free flowing and motorists have more discretion over their travel speeds. But when traffic is bumper to bumper, it’s like having two queues for one bank teller.

"Closing passing lanes during holiday peaks actually means more vehicles get through and it’s safer for everyone.

“The lanes will be appropriately signposted and fenced off with traffic cones, and we’re reminding people to obey the normal road rules by keeping left and observing the two second following distance.

Ms Boyt says it’s also important to remember that everyone can play a part in making our roads safer.

“We all make mistakes sometimes, but mistakes on the road can have serious or even deadly consequences. 

“Ensuring that your car is fit for the road, staying alert, keeping your speeds down, being courteous and driving to the conditions are all key elements of a safe journey for you and your passengers this Easter weekend.”

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

Check the Transport Agency’s website: www.nzta.govt.nz(external link) for the latest highway information or sign up to www.onthemove.govt.nz(external link) for up-to-date information on what is happening on the route you plan to travel.

You can also freephone 0800 4 HIGHWAYS for national and regional travel updates and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and Facebook. 

Getting there and back in one piece

Here are the Transport Agency's top tips for driving safely during the long weekend.

  • 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, and even you as a driver (for example being tired or on medication 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, and plan in advance where you'll take breaks along the way.
  • 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.  Be sure to take enough games, books and DVDs 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.

For more information please contact:

Natalie Dixon
Waikato / Bay of Plenty Media Manager

T: 07 928 7908
M: 021 928 413
E: natalie.dixon@nzta.govt.nz

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