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Holiday weekend care needed as winter sets in

28 May 2014

Holiday weekend care needed as winter sets in

Winter’s official arrival on Sunday (1 June) coincides with the Queen’s Birthday holiday weekend, and the NZ Transport Agency is urging drivers in Auckland and Northland to plan ahead and take extra care during the break.

“Sunday’s official start of winter is a timely safety reminder that the shorter days and unpredictable weather can make driving more of a challenge,” says Transport Agency Regional Director for Auckland and Northland Ernst Zöllner.

“People should allow plenty of time to reach destinations safely, and check that vehicles are winter fit.”

State highways in Northland and Auckland will be busier than normal as people take advantage of their last long holiday weekend until spring. Traffic volumes on the Northern Gateway Toll Road on State Highway 1 last Queen’s Birthday averaged 16,769 trips daily over the four-day period from the Friday to Monday – 3000 more than for the same four-day period the weekend before.

Mr Zöllner says people can avoid SH1’s increased volume of traffic by using SH16 between Wellsford and Silverdale and north-west Auckland.

“Even during holidays, SH16 carries a lot less traffic than SH1. As long as people remain aware they’re driving on a mostly rural highway through farmland with few opportunities to overtake safely, SH16 is a less busy and smoother alternative to SH1.”

In the past five Queen’s Birthday Weekends, a total of 199 people have been injured or killed on roads in Auckland and Northland (Auckland 1 fatality, 22 serious injuries and 155 minor injuries; Northland no fatalities, 7 serious injuries and 14 minor injuries).

Mr Zöllner urged drivers to allow plenty of time for safe journeys at safe speeds, with regular breaks along the way.

“About half the crashes that kill people are caused by people who aren’t breaking the road rules – they are people like the rest of us who make mistakes when they are tired, distracted or confused. Holiday breaks like Queen’s Birthday are a reminder to give driving or riding the respect and attention it deserves,” Mr Zöllner says

The Transport Agency is also providing a checklist of basic safety items to help drivers ensure their vehicles up to scratch before hitting the road for the weekend. The checklist (http://www.nzta.govt.nz/vehicle/choosing/basics/index.html?r=1) provides tips for checking tyres, windscreens (wipers and mirrors), indicators, rust and lights.

The Transport Agency also offers a range of options to help drivers plan their journeys.

• For the latest on state highway conditions, visitwww.highwayinfo.govt.nz or ring 0800 4 HIGHWAYS and 0800 111 655 for national and regional travel updates
• Sign up to www.onthemove.govt.nz for regular updates on the routes you plan to use
• Drivers using the Northern Gateway Toll Road can avoid delays or extra charges by prepaying for trips at www.tollroad.govt.nz or at 0800 402020 (the contact centre will be closed on Saturday and Sunday, but is open Queen’s Birthday Monday).

“The Transport Agency will be working with the Police and local roading authorities to keep traffic flowing smoothly and safely this weekend. Good planning and driving to the conditions will also help ensure this early winter break over Queen’s Birthday will be a safe one,” Mr Zöllner says.

For more information please visit www.nzta.govt.nz

ENDS

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