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Drivers: Take Extra Care In Winter Conditions

24 JUNE 2008

Drivers Urged To Take Extra Care In Winter Conditions

With an estimated 36 New Zealanders killed on our roads last winter due to driving too fast for the conditions, one of ACC’s road safety managers is urging motorists to adapt their driving to the worsening weather.

Judy Buchanan, who manages ACC’s Drive to the Conditions campaign, said winter driving brings a whole new set of hazards that can lead to road deaths and injuries.

``The snow, ice, rain and wind all create treacherous road conditions as well as decreased visibility,’’ Ms Buchanan said. ``What drivers need to remember is to reduce their speed and increase their following distances according to current conditions. About half of all crashes happen at or about the speed limit, and often that’s because the driver has been going faster than is safe for the conditions.’’

``The speed limit is not a target; it only tells drivers how fast they can legally go on a particular stretch of road. If weather, road or traffic conditions make that speed unsafe, drivers should slow down.’’

In 2007, 108 people died on New Zealand’s roads between June and August. That was 14% more than in the same period the year before. It’s estimated 36 of these deaths, plus a further 1,000 injured people, were due to drivers going too fast for the conditions.

When driving in winter, motorists should also pay particular attention to their following distance because it takes longer to stop on slippery roads. ``Most people know the two-second following rule, but on wet roads you should increase that to at least four seconds, and on icy roads leave at least ten seconds between you and the vehicle in front,’’ said Ms Buchanan.

ACC is also reminding drivers to be sure their windscreens are completely free of ice and demisted before driving off, to slow down and be especially careful because:

• Reduced visibility means you’ve got less time to react to danger; pedestrians and cyclists are harder to see
• Wet and icy roads can make cornering hazardous
• Sun-strike occurs because the sun is lower in the sky during winter; keep a pair of sunglasses handy.

``It’s a very good idea to get your car checked to make sure it’s up to scratch for winter driving conditions, and particularly that the tyres have plenty of tread on them. Having tyres that grip the road well, especially when it’s slippery, could be the thing that saves your family from injury or worse,’’ Judy Buchanan said.


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