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Planning And Patience Key To Safe Travel

Preparation, Planning And Patience Key To Safe Labour Weekend Travel

20 October 2008

You've booked Labour Weekend holiday accommodation, aired the tent and arranged for neighbours, kennels and catteries to keep an eye on your pets and home - but have you prepared your vehicles and yourself for safe travel on the roads?

Police throughout the Wellington District are urging motorists to plan ahead, get vehicles up to spec before driving long distances, be patient on congested roads, avoid fatigue and drive safely at all times.

Inspector Peter Baird, Road Policing Manager, said patrols from throughout the Wellington District (Wellington City Area, Porirua, the Kapiti Coast, Hutt Valley and the Wairarapa) are concentrating on the State Highways and main arterial routes throughout the holiday weekend.

Speed, alcohol, seat belts, car restraints and other high risk offending such as dangerous overtaking, failing to keep left, intersection behaviour, careless driving and following too closely are the main focus of attention.

The official Labour Weekend holiday period starts at 4pm on Friday, 24 October and ends at 6am on Tuesday, 28 October. Nationally there were three fatal crashes and 97 injury crashes over Labour Weekend last year.

Four people died, 28 received serious injuries and a further 117 were treated for minor injuries.

Inspector Baird said there were no fatalities in the Wellington District over this period, but motorists should not be complacent.

He urged motorists to ensure their vehicles were roadworthy before setting out from home, and for drivers to make sure they are rested before getting behind the wheel.

"Tired drivers are unsafe drivers," he said. "Check yourself and your car out so that you live to enjoy the holiday."

Inspector Baird said potential congestion will be a key factors heading out of the city on Friday afternoon, and again on Monday when holidaymakers return, and motorists should be patient.

NZTA Central Operations Manager Mark Owen said work affecting the state highway will finish at midday on Thursday 23 October and would not resume until Tuesday, 28 October in order to minimise any potential delays.

At the same time NZTA will close the Lindale and Waikanae passing lanes on SH1 for northbound traffic. These lanes will reopen on Saturday afternoon, 25 October. On Monday, 27 October at about lunch time, NZTA will close the southbound passing lane north of Otaki for traffic heading back into Wellington. This passing lane will be reopened at about 9.00pm.

The closing and opening of the passing lanes is dependent on traffic flows so if traffic remains heavy at the start and end of Labour weekend, the lanes will be closed earlier or remain closed until NZTA is satisfied it is practical to reopen them.

Mr Owen said passing lanes were regularly closed because it produced a steadier flow of single lane traffic along the highway by reducing the potential conflict at the merge point.

"This is critical at a long weekend like Labour Weekend," he said

"We're expecting traffic to build up on the main highways from mid afternoon. Plan for delays, build in some extra time in your travel journey and keep your focus on the road," Inspector Baird said.

There will be zero tolerance to speed, alcohol, failure to wear seat belts or restraint, and to other risky road behaviour. Drivers stopped can expect to be breath tested, he said.

"We want people to arrive alive. Keep within the speed limits, drive to the conditions, take regular breaks to avoid fatigue and pull over to let faster traffic past, especially if you are towing a trailer or caravan."


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