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NZ Transport Agency urges motorists to plan ahead and drive safely over the Christmas holidays

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The NZ Transport Agency says motorists in Auckland and Northland can make their holiday journeys safer and smarter by preparing well, planning ahead and making the right choices.

The message from the NZ Transport Agency and NZ Police this year is simple – drive safely, we want you here for Christmas.

“This is a special time of year and no holiday should be marred by a road crash that could be avoided.” says the Transport Agency’s System Manager, Steve Mutton.

“Roads across Auckland and the Northland are always busy at this time of year so congestion and delays are inevitable. But if everyone leaves plenty of time for their journey, drives to the conditions and plans ahead before leaving home, the worst of the frustrations can be eased and everyone can concentrate on arriving safely,” says Mr Mutton.

The Transport Agency has produced interactive Holiday Hotspot maps showing the busiest routes and times over the Christmas and New Year holidays.

“Data from previous years show highways will be busy throughout the middle of the day all the way from 23 December 2017 to 4 January 2018, with particularly heavy times on individual routes and days. But with a weekend before Christmas Day we might see holidaymakers staggering their journeys a bit more, which will help ease congestion.” 

To minimise delays most road works outside the main centres and, barring emergency repairs, won’t resume again until the second week of January 2018.

One exception will be the annual road re-sealing on the Auckland Harbour Bridge. The two south-bound clip-on lanes will be closed on the evening of 26 December for at least 48 hours. The Shelley Beach Road off-ramp will also close during this time.

To the north, State Highway 1 between Puhoi and Wellsford is one of the busiest points on the network. Congestion starts to build northbound from about 9am, through to the middle of the day from Christmas Day to New Year’s Eve. Southbound traffic is heaviest from 10am through to mid-evening from 1 to 4 January 2018.

The Hill Street intersection at Warkworth in particular can get very congested due to the high volumes of traffic.

“To ensure these are managed as smoothly as possible traffic cameras at the intersection will be monitored by traffic operators at the Auckland Transport Operations Centre. The traffic light sequencing will be adjusted to allow more traffic to pass through the intersection depending on which direction the heaviest traffic flows are coming from,” says Mr Mutton.

On the Southern Motorway, there will be work over the rail line at the Takinini Interchange during daytime hours from 27 December 2017 to 7 January 2018. There will be no lane closures.

Motorists travelling on SH20A to Auckland Airport over the busy holiday period are advised to add an extra 30 minutes to their journey with extra traffic in the area and some road works causing delays.

“Our teams will be on duty 24 hours a day seven days a week across the holiday season to monitor and manage traffic flows and will be working hard to keep people informed about traffic conditions,” says Mr Mutton.

After the New Year, Transport Agency crews will be making the most of the warmer, drier months to get ahead on major projects and improve the safety and resilience of the regions’ highways.

Drivers are likely to encounter speed restrictions and other traffic management at work sites and these may cause some delays.

“We do much of our work in summer because we need warm, dry conditions to help new road seals to stick to the existing surface and create more durable highways,” says Mr Mutton.

“We ask motorists to slow down through road works and respect the reduced speed limits because we want everyone including workers and motorists to stay safe this summer.”

How to stay up to date

The Transport Agency encourages people to use the range of information designed to give real time data about travel times, conditions on the network and information about alternative routes. 

Drive safely, we want you here for Christmas

The message from NZ Police and the NZ Transport Agency to road users this year is simple – drive safely, we want you here for Christmas.

Plan ahead.  Get your vehicle checked before you head out, plan to avoid peak traffic where you can and give yourself enough time to take plenty of rest or sightseeing breaks along the way.  It’s your holiday after all, so why not make the journey an enjoyable part of it?

Drive to the conditions.  This isn’t just about weather conditions—it’s about the road you’re on, the traffic, your vehicle and load, your speed, your following distance, and adjusting your driving for wet and windy conditions.

Watch out for fatigue.  Long trips are tiring and fatigue can be deadly behind the wheel. Get a good night’s sleep beforehand, plan in advance where you’ll take breaks along the way, and be aware of any medication you’re taking that might affect your driving.

Keep your cool.  Holiday driving can be frustrating with busy roads, stifling heat and restless kids in the car. So please, be courteous and patient while on the roads.  Don’t get provoked by other drivers’ aggressive behaviour, and wait to overtake until you get to a passing lane or can see enough clear road ahead of you to do it safely.  And be sure to take enough games, books, DVDs or electronics to keep the kids occupied along the way.

Buckle up. Don’t let your family holiday be marred by tragedy simply because someone didn’t buckle up. If you’re the driver, you are legally responsible for making sure all passengers under the age of 15 are securely restrained with either a safety belt or child restraint.  Children must be properly restrained by an approved child restraint until their 7th birthday.

Don’t drink and drive.  The alcohol limit for adult drivers is now lower, and your judgement and reaction times begin to deteriorate after even one drink. Keep it simple – if you’re going to drink, don’t drive.

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