Make this weekend a happy anniversary, Wellington


Take the time to plan ahead for a safe trip this long weekend, drivers are being urged ahead of Wellington Anniversary weekend.

The NZ Transport Agency, Police, ACC and the Ministry of Transport are reminding drivers to ensure they are well rested and well prepared before heading out on the roads this long weekend.

NZTA spokesman Andy Knackstedt says that over 2010 the Greater Wellington region had its lowest road toll on record, and that Wellington Anniversary Weekend was a timely reminder to motorists to keep up the good work.

‘While it’s pleasing to see a sharp reduction in the Wellington region’s road toll over the last year, every fatality and serious injury is one too many.”

Provisional statistics for 2010 show there were nine confirmed fatalities on roads in the region last year, down from 20 in 2009 and 22 in 2008. The previous lowest figure was 15, in 2007.

Staying safe on the roads this anniversary weekend

The NZ Transport Agency, Police, ACC and the Ministry of Transport have put together some simple tips and advice for people to avoid crashes over the break. And we'll be doing our part as well.

Here are some things we'll be doing to keep the roads safe these holidays, and some things we're asking drivers to do to make their own journeys safe ones.

What we’ll do for you these holidays

1) Keep you informed about the roads so you can plan your journey
You can get up to date information about what’s happening on the roads via variable message signs on the roadside, on-line at link), or by calling 0800 444 449.

2) Give you the tools to help you plan a safe trip so your journey is safe and enjoyable
All of the information you need is available here - link)

3) Close some passing lanes to keep traffic flowing safely
We want you to reach your destination easily and safely, and we know you want a hassle free trip. We’ll be closing the SH1 northbound passing lanes south of Waikanae and Te Horo north, and the southbound passing lane north of Otaki. during busy periods because in heavy traffic the merging at the end of the passing lane slows everyone down even more.

Things you can do to make your journeys safer these holidays

1) Plan ahead
It will take the stress out of your journey and can make the trip an enjoyable part of the holiday.

Plan to have enough rest beforehand and plan to share the driving to stay fresh and avoid the risks of fatigue. Allow enough time to get to your destination safely.

Schedule in breaks on your trip, and sort out entertainment and refreshments to keep the kids occupied.

Think about the route you'll take - how safe are the roads you are planning to travel on? Will you be travelling on unfamiliar roads? Be aware that different parts of our roads provide different levels of safety. Roadside hazards like trees, ditches, poles and narrow shoulders can increase risk. Intersections can be dangerous, so can busy roads without a median barrier. Armed with that knowledge people can adjust their driving to the conditions and take extra care on higher risk roads.  Further information and risk maps for state highways in New Zealand are available at link).

2) Check your car before travelling
A safe and well maintained car can stop you having a crash or protect you if there is one. Don’t just hop in the car and go, it only takes a few minutes to check your tyre treads and pressure, and it could save your life.
Also remember to check your oil, water and lights. Most garages offer safety checks for tyre tread and pressure, lights, brakes, cooling systems and other components. A well tuned vehicle is also more fuel efficient so you'll also save money on fuel costs.

We tend to cram a lot of gear in for the holidays, but loose items can be dangers to people in the car. Make sure everything is safely packed away. If you’re going to be towing make sure all the couplings are compatible. Also, remember to check the safety chain, trailer lights, tyres and brakes. See link) for more tips on safe towing.

3) Drive to the conditions
Every road is different and every journey is different. Remember the ‘conditions’ mean more than just the weather. They also include the state of the road, the traffic conditions, your vehicle, your load, and you - are you stressed or tired? Take a break.

4) If you’re going to drink, plan a safe way home
You need to be sober to control your vehicle properly and be aware of what’s going on around you. Plan ahead and know how you're getting home before you go out drinking - have a sober driver, use public transport, take a taxi or walk if it’s safe and practical.

5) Expect the unexpected
Over the holidays the road environment can be more unpredictable. There could be a queue, a bike or even a horse around the corner.

If you’re driving, make sure you keep an eye out for cyclists and other road users. Give them plenty of space. Watch out for horses on back country roads. If you’re cycling or motorcycling, make sure you’re visible and wearing proper protective gear. If you’re towing or driving slowly, keep an eye on what’s behind you. Pull over safely to let traffic pass.

Have a safe and happy holiday weekend!