The NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) is reminding Waikato and Bay of Plenty drivers to take care on the roads over the summer and holiday season as they travel in and out of the regions.
“It’s a busy time of year with a lot of extra driving on most people’s plates, whether it’s getting around all the friends and relatives on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day… or heading away for a break over the holiday season,” says NZTA State Highway Manager, Kaye Clark.
“We do have some road works around the region which are underway thanks to the better weather, so it’s important to keep an eye out for these and take note of the speed restrictions and other signage in place. However in general it’s always a good idea to drive to the conditions, manage your speeds and avoid driver fatigue. Don’t drive if you’ve been drinking or taking medication or other drugs which might affect your ability to drive safely,” says Mrs Clark.
With more traffic on the roads on holiday destination highways, Mrs Clark says it’s important to respect other road users and be courteous and patient as you travel. Planning your journey first to find out about road conditions and allowing plenty of time for the trip will help with staying calm and relaxed while travelling, she says.
“Let others merge into traffic; indicate before you turn or change lanes; keep left unless passing; pull over where it’s safe to let others pass; try not to let other people's poor road manners provoke you into unsafe driving decisions. Always keep a safe following distance between yourself and the vehicle in front and remember that the speed limit for towing on the open road is 90 km/h. Don’t forget about non-vehicle road users either: cyclists, pedestrians and horse riders need space too.”
Drivers also need to ensure everyone in the car is safe by using their seat belts and properly restraining young children in an approved car seat which is suitable to their size and weight. “Your vehicle needs to be in good condition too – and that includes being registered and warranted. Do a vehicle check; or take it through its Warrant of Fitness check if that’s due – before you head away. Are your brake lights, indicators, tyres safe on your vehicle and trailer or caravan? Check that the towing attachments including the safety chain for your trailer or caravan are safe. Ensure loads are distributed evenly to increase your vehicle’s stability vehicle ‘s stability on the road.”
Mrs Clark says all of these aspects relate to Safer Journeys, New Zealand’s Road Safety Strategy 2010–2020, which envisions a safe road system increasingly free of death and serious injury. It includes the ‘Safe System’ approach, which represents a fundamental shift in the way we think about road safety – for safer roads and roadsides; safer speeds; safer vehicles; and safer road use by drivers and others travelling on our highways.
“We have plenty of free information available to help people plan their journey before they leave – whether it’s a long trip on holiday or just commuting to work,” says Mrs Clark. “Either phone the NZTA's freephone 0800 4 HIGHWAYS or 0800 44 44 49, or visit our website www.nzta.govt.nz/traffic(external link) for up-to-the-minute info on road conditions anywhere in New Zealand.”
A ‘Safe System’ includes: