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Safe driving urged for long weekend in Canterbury

Safe driving urged for long weekend in Canterbury

Thursday, 29 May 2014 - 5:23pm


Holiday-makers hitting the road in Canterbury tomorrow [Friday] afternoon are being urged to drive carefully and ensure a safe start to the long weekend.

Senior Sergeant Phil Newton, of Canterbury Highway Patrol, says long trips, heavy traffic, cold conditions and alcohol all combine to raise the risk of crashes during Queen's Birthday weekend.

"Traditionally we see a lot of traffic on the roads at the start of the weekend," he says. "In Canterbury we are aiming to have a fatality-free Friday - and to maintain that right through the long weekend.

"We're urging drivers to make sure they are driving to the conditions and increasing following distances, particularly if they strike poor weather or heavy traffic this weekend."

Nationally, Police are encouraging motorists to 'make it to Monday' by observing three key road safety points - wearing seat belts, driving at safe speeds and not drinking and driving.

Although there were no fatalities in Canterbury last Queen's Birthday Weekend, over the past six years there have been three fatal crashes, 10 serious injury crashes, 43 minor injury crashes and 108 non-injury crashes. These resulted in three fatalities, 11 serious injuries and 50 minor injuries.

All three of the fatal crashes occurred on urban roads, between 6pm and 2.30am and all were alcohol-related, Senior Sergeant Newton says.

The Queen's Birthday weekend holiday period officially starts at 4pm on Friday [30 May] and ends at 6am on Tuesday [3 June].

As part of the weekend's road policing focus, Police will be again strictly enforcing a reduced 4km/h speed threshold from 4pm on Friday until 6am on Tuesday, with a highly visible presence on the nation's roads.

Every driver stopped can also be expected to be breath tested, with Police having little tolerance for anyone not wearing a safety belt, driving dangerously or in a way that puts other innocent road users at risk.

Those towing or driving more slowly are also encouraged to pull over where safe to allow others to pass so traffic does not build up behind and cause additional frustration.

Senior Sergeant Newton says long trips to holiday destinations can raise the risk of fatigue, and drivers should make sure they stop regularly to take a rest.

"There are also a number of major events on around the district this weekend which may also contribute to traffic volumes," he says. "These include the Brass Monkey Rally in Central Otago throughout the weekend, and the Christchurch Airport Marathon on Saturday.

"We ask all drivers to be patient, consider other drivers and allow plenty of time for your journeys."

It's not just holiday drivers that need to take care this weekend. Crash risks also increase in towns and cities during the long weekend - with alcohol being a contributing factor.

Analysis of Canterbury crashes over the past six years shows that the leading cause of crashes was poor observation (37 percent of crashes), followed by poor handling (29 percent) and failing to giveway or stop (27 percent).

23 percent of crashes occurred while cornering, and 13 percent occurred through loss of control on a straight road.


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