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Campaign aims for a safe December on the roads

Campaign aims for a safe December on the roads

A high profile holiday road safety campaign has kicked off in an effort to avoid a repeat of the tragic scenes which plagued New Zealand roads last December.

The joint Police-Land Transport Safety Authority campaign combines targeted enforcement with advertisements featuring simple safe driving tips and reminders that road crashes can ruin holidays and devastate families.

While road deaths in New Zealand reached a record low of 455 last year, a spate of serious crashes in December resulted in 59 deaths - the worst December for five years.

Director of Land Transport Safety David Wright said New Zealand was again on track for a record low number of road deaths in 2002, but another poor December would mean another miserable Christmas for many families.

“We must remember that road deaths are not statistics - each one is a real human tragedy. Every person killed in a crash is someone’s child, friend, partner, parent or grandparent. The friends and families of the 366 people who have died on our roads already this year will find it very hard to celebrate the holidays."

Police will be on the roads in force throughout December and the holiday period, with the highway patrol targeting vacation hot spots in particular. Special holiday-themed television ads have been produced to support on-road Police enforcement activities, and radio spots will offer practical driving tips to counteract the traditional holiday problems of driver fatigue, excessive speed and drink-driving.

The Christmas holiday period is a particularly dangerous time on New Zealand roads due to several factors:

there is more traffic on the road during the holidays

many people are driving on unfamiliar roads

many people are driving long distances and easily become tired or frustrated

driving can be stressful due to heat, noisy children, family tensions and general end-of-year tiredness

drivers may be fatigued from driving long hours or at abnormal times such as early morning or late evening

people on holiday can let down their guard when it comes to road safety - i.e driving too fast, not wearing a safety belt, etc

there is an increased incidence of drink-driving during holiday periods.

Two pages of safe driving tips for the holidays follow this statement. For more information, visit the LTSA website: http:// http://www.ltsa.govt.nz

Holiday driving - safety tips from the LTSA

Driving during the holidays doesn’t have to be stressful or dangerous. By planning ahead, packing and preparing properly and allowing plenty of time for long trips you can help ensure your safety on the road.

Vehicle preparation and packing

• Have your vehicle checked before travelling. Many garages offer safety checks for tyre tread and pressure, lights, brakes, cooling systems and other components.

• Make sure everything is securely stowed when you pack your vehicle. Even small objects can become dangerous missiles in the event of a sudden stop or a crash.

• If you’re towing a trailer or caravan, load heavy objects evenly over all of the axles.

Trailers and caravans

• Check all towing attachments and make sure the couplings are compatible. Also remember to check the safety chain, trailer lights, tyres and brakes.

• Remember that if you are towing a trailer your maximum speed limit on the open road is 80 km/h. Keep left and pull over when it is safe to let other vehicles pass.

Driver fatigue

Holiday driving often means spending several hours behind the wheel. Long journeys can be tiring, and fatigue can be fatal behind the wheel. There are some simple ways to avoid fatigue and improve your alertness.

• Get plenty of sleep before your journey, and try to drive at times of the day when you are normally awake.

• Take your time and plan for rest breaks every couple of hours. Get out of your vehicle and take a short walk or do some other exercise to get your blood flowing and improve alertness. If you feel tired, take a short nap (less than 40 minutes).

• If possible, share the driving.

• Don’t drink and drive, and don’t speed. Many fatigue-related crashes also involve these two factors.

• Use air conditioning if your vehicle has it. Cool air will keep you more alert and will help avoid frustration and stress, which is a major cause of fatigue. Make sure your air conditioning is set to the "fresh air" mode, as per the graphic to the right.

Keep your cool

Driving can be a frustrating experience at the best of times. Add in busy roads and stifling heat and your patience can evaporate very quickly. For safety’s sake don’t let that happen. There are simple and easy ways to keep your cool and stay in control.

• Be courteous - let others merge into traffic and use your indicators before turning or changing lanes.

• Keep left unless passing. If you’re a slower driver, pull over when you can to let others pass.

• Be patient and don’t be provoked by other drivers' aggressive behaviour.

Keep an eye out for kids

Watch out for children on the road. Young cyclists and pedestrians can be unpredictable and poor judges of vehicle speed. Young children may also be learning to ride new bikes over the holidays. Please respect cycle lanes. Keep an eye out for learner drivers - the holidays are a popular time to learn to drive.

Buckle up

Too many family holidays are marred by tragedy when a crash occurs and people aren’t properly restrained. It’s the driver’s responsibility to make sure that all passengers are wearing safety belts. The law requires children to be restrained in approved child seats suitable to their size and weight. There is a $150 fine for each person not buckled up.

Share the road

Traffic volumes increase significantly during the holidays. You will have to share the road with other cars, as well as heavy trucks, buses, campervans and vehicles towing boats or caravans. Keep the following points in mind:

• Always keep a safe following distance between yourself and the vehicle in front. This gives you a safe stopping distance should the vehicle in front of you stop suddenly.

• Be patient. Trucks and towing vehicles have lower speed limits. If you’re travelling behind a slower vehicle, wait for a passing lane or until you can see clear road ahead of you and enough space to overtake safely.

• After overtaking a larger vehicle, don’t slow down quickly or cut in too closely. Larger vehicles take a longer time to brake and you could end up getting hit from behind.

Drive safely these holidays!

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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