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Motorists urged to stay off the roads

15 August 2011

Motorists urged to stay off the roads

Drivers appear to be heeding advice to stay off the roads as snow falls across the country, with the AA breakdown service reporting fewer than normal call outs in the South Island.

“Our advice to motorists when it is snowing is always stay off the road unless you absolutely have to drive, and it seems as if people are taking that approach,” says AA Motoring Affairs General Manager Mike Noon.

“Driving on snowy or icy roads is extremely treacherous even if you have a four-wheel-drive. Vehicles can lose their grip on the road very easily and once they start sliding it can be next to impossible to get them back under control. If your vehicle starts to skid on a patch of ice it is best to lightly push on the brakes a couple of times. Braking heavily is likely to put the car more out of control.

“Drivers should take particular care in the early morning or evening when wet roads can ice up and if possible avoid being on the road at these times.”

The AA recommends that drivers should double their following distance from two to four seconds, reduce their speeds and make sure they can see and be seen as well as possible.

If it is gloomy or raining, drivers should turn on their headlights during the day but not put them on beam as this can be blinding to other vehicles. Vehicles with fog lights should also only use these in fog. Using fog lights in normal conditions, even at night, can be dazzling and distracting for other drivers.

The AA’s final advice is for motorists going on longer journeys to be prepared in case they do not make it to their destination by having a fully charged cellphone, a blanket and warm clothes and some snacks in the car.

“If you get stranded, like about 100 people did on the Rimutaka Hill Road between Wellington and the Wairarapa on Sunday night, stay in your vehicle and wait for help,” says Mr Noon.

Drivers should also check for road closures before departing on a trip. Information can be found on the AA’s website: http://aaroadwatch.co.nz

The website has been extremely busy and anyone unable to access the site should wait for a brief period then try again.

Road closure information is also available on the phone by calling one of the following numbers:

• AA Members: 0800 500 444
• Non AA members: 0900 932 834

ENDS

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