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Weather adds risk to Easter driving on Canterbury roads

Weather adds risk to Easter driving on Canterbury roads

Canterbury, 17 April 2014 - Canterbury Police are urging drivers to take extra care over the extended Easter and Anzac Day holiday period - especially with rain forecast for much of the week.

This year, Easter is followed by Anzac Day the following weekend, and coincides with the school holidays.

Senior Sergeant Phil Newton of the Canterbury Highway Patrol says Police anticipate many people will take the opportunity to enjoy a longer holiday break, resulting in high volumes of traffic on the roads.

"Heavy traffic, long trips and the possibility of poor weather will mean there's a higher level of risk on the road for motorists," he says.

"We're urging all road users to be vigilant and take extra care with speed and driving to the conditions.

"During the last few years the Easter road toll has reduced thanks to safer driving by people travelling to holiday destinations, and the lowered speed tolerance.

"But we don't have to go too far back to see what can happen if we are complacent - in 2010, twelve people tragically lost their lives on New Zealand roads."

Last Easter there were three deaths nationwide. In Canterbury during the past five Easter holidays there have been three deaths and 109 injuries on the district's roads.

The official holiday period runs from 4pm on Thursday 17 April until 6am on Tuesday 22 April.

Police will be enforcing the reduced speed limit tolerance of 4kmh for an extended period from the beginning of the official holiday period until 6am on Monday 28 April, following Anzac Day weekend.

Senior Sergeant Newton says the majority of fatal and serious injury crashes during the Easter holiday period have traditionally been on the open highways and rural roads, caused by speed, fatigue and alcohol.

Throughout the extended holiday period, Canterbury Police will be increasing the number of officers on the highways and will be conducting alcohol check points in urban areas, he says.

A number of public events during the holiday period will also increase the volume of traffic on Canterbury roads, with people travelling to destinations such as Warbirds over Wanaka and the Methven Mountain Thunder motorcycle street races.

"We are encouraging motorcyclists travelling to the Methven event or to other destinations to be particularly careful.

"So far this year, 18 out of the 79 fatalities nationally on our roads have been motorcyclists. Considering that motorcycles make up only two percent of the New Zealand vehicle fleet, that's a disturbing trend."

Police also urge travellers to drive to the conditions, be patient and take regular breaks.

"The forecast wet weather conditions could make for a slow trip for many. Drivers of slow vehicles, including those towing caravans and boats, should ensure that they pull over to let others pass if a queue forms behind them."

ENDS

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