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Driving Tips For Getting To The Skifield Safely

August 13 2008

Plan, Prepare And Take Care – Ten Top Driving Tips For Getting To The Skifield Safely

Winter weather may be great for snow cover, but it’s not so good for driving conditions so ACC is reminding motorists to take care when heading for the slopes.

“Most of us don’t live close to the skifields so getting there usually involves a drive of several hours,” said ACC’s public safety programme manager, Jennifer Brown. “The reality is that we usually begin our journey after we’ve already worked all day, then we drive back after a full day on the slopes. That means we’re usually tired and so are more at risk of being involved in a road crash.”

ACC’s ten top tips to get safely to and from the skifield:

1. Rest up: Fatigue is a significant cause of road crashes so make sure you get a good long sleep the night before you leave.
2. Leave yourself plenty of time: Build in time to take breaks from driving and be patient if you strike bad weather or heavy traffic.
3. Have your car serviced: Get the anti-freeze filled up, check the wipers and demisters, and have the brakes and tyres checked (including the spare).
4. Pack for the conditions: Got the snow chains? An ice-scraper for the windscreen? Extra food and clothing in case you get trapped in your car?
5. Be alert for early warning signs of fatigue: Slow reactions, tired or sore eyes, missing road signs or yawning frequently mean you’re getting fatigued. If you notice them, stop and swap drivers or take a 20 minute nap.
6. Watch your following distance: In the wet the 2-second rule becomes the 4-second rule, and when there’s ice or snow increase that to 10 seconds.
7. Drive to the conditions: Winter brings rain, wind, fog and snow. In these conditions travelling below the speed limit is safer, even on the open road.
8. Take extra care on alpine roads: These are usually narrow, winding, icy and snow-covered so slow down and take extra care, especially on corners.
9. Keep headlights dipped if it’s snowing: Dipped headlights reduce the glare reflecting off the falling snow.
10. Eat regularly and drink water: Eat healthy food on the drive and drink plenty of water to stay hydrated (this will help avoid fatigue). Caffeine drinks, loud music and winding down the windows won’t stop you being fatigued!

One hundred people died on New Zealand’s roads in July, August and September 2007. Three-quarters of those crashes were on the open road, and a third of these were single car crashes, suggesting the driver lost control of the car from driving too fast, or fell asleep.

“The best advice is to plan ahead for the trip, rest up, and then take your time on the road. Remember that arriving a little late is immeasurably better than not arriving at all,” Jennifer Brown said.


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