Motorists urged to plan ahead and drive safely over Christmas


Motorists travelling for Christmas in Auckland and Northland are urged to make their holiday journeys safer and smarter by preparing well, planning ahead and making the right choices.

“This is a special time of year and no holiday should be marred by a road crash that could be avoided,” says Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency Director of Regional Relationships, Steve Mutton.

“Road safety has a sharper focus in December with more people travelling to holiday destinations or to join family gatherings for Christmas.

“We’re all human and we can all make mistakes, but every one of us also has the power to make decisions which will keep the roads safer for everyone. Mistakes are inevitable. Deaths and serious injuries from crashes aren’t.”

Twenty-eight people have lost their lives on Northland roads so far this year, the same as in 2019, but it’s been a year where COVID-19 restrictions kept most people off the roads for weeks at a time. Now with fewer people travelling overseas because of COVID-19, the Christmas-New Year holiday period is expected to be a busy time on Northland roads.

“More cars on the road, tired drivers and people driving on unfamiliar roads all raise the road safety risk, making driving stressful and risky. We need drivers to do their part by planning ahead, driving sober, wearing seatbelts and driving to the road conditions.

“There will be some delays, and we all need to factor that into our plans. Trying to ‘make up lost time’ by speeding and unsafe overtaking puts everyone using the road at risk. Speed is a factor in every crash. Even when it isn’t the direct cause, it can be the difference between someone walking away unharmed or being seriously injured or even killed. For everyone’s safety, please slow down.”

Waka Kotahi has produced interactive maps showing the busiest routes and times over the Christmas and New Year holidays: 

Summer holiday hotspots(external link)

Data from previous years show we can expect State Highway 1 northbound to be busiest in the middle of the day on Wednesday before Christmas, with the next couple of days relatively quiet. 

The days after Christmas are expected to be busy from 9 or 10 am through till late afternoon.  

Motorists heading south from Auckland on SH1 can expect traffic to be heaviest after Christmas and in the mornings. 

Motorists are urged to plan ahead to avoid the busiest times. 

Waka Kotahi construction projects, maintenance work and road resurfacing will stop from 23 December to 4 January to minimise disruption to holiday traffic.

“Even though there are no workers on site there will be temporary speed limits and road cones to watch out for. They are there to indicate a change in road conditions or layout and are for the safety of all road users. Drivers are urged to slow down, be patient and drive to the conditions. We want everyone to get to their destinations safely,” says Steve Mutton.

Improving safety on New Zealand roads is a top priority for Waka Kotahi. We are committed to Vision Zero, which aspires to a New Zealand where no-one is killed or seriously injured on our roads. 

We’re working hard with Police, local government and others to deliver Road to Zero, the government’s road safety strategy for 2020-2030. Road to Zero aims to reduce deaths and serious injuries on our roads by 40 percent over the next 10 years. 

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