Boxing Day (26 December) traffic will be heavy on regional highways and roads, and the NZ Transport Agency is advising drivers to plan for a safe journey and to avoid delays.
“This is one of our busiest times of the year - the time when Aucklanders traditionally head north and south for their holidays and the city’s Christmas sales start,” says the Transport Agency’s Highway Manager, Tommy Parker. “We’ll be working hard to manage traffic flows as safely as possible and to keep people informed of traffic and road condition.
One of the busiest highways will be the Northern Gateway Toll Road on SH1 north of Auckland.
Last Christmas holiday there was an average of 19,900 trips a day – the busiest day was 2 January when there were 23,500 trips. The yearly average for the toll road is 15,000 trips per day.
“The tremendous increase in holiday traffic on the toll road indicates just how busy highways will be in Auckland and Northland, and the need for drivers to plan their trips and to allow plenty of time for a safe journey.”
Mr Parker says the Transport Agency strongly supports the 4km/h enforcement tolerance being employed by Police as part of the Safe Summer programme.
“Evidence shows that even very small reductions in open road speeds leads to reductions in fatalities and serious injuries,” he says. “The Police will be out in force to make journeys as safe as possible by discouraging speeding, drink-driving, and other unsafe driving that puts everyone at risk.”
Mr Parker says drivers can do their part by planning ahead to share the driving and avoid fatigue, being patient and keeping to safe speeds, driving sober, avoiding distractions and checking their vehicles before heading off.
“Away from city motorways, drivers will be sharing roads through towns and rural communities with a lot of other people. Christmas is a popular time for children to learn how to cycle, but they often can make unpredictable moves and also can be poor judges of distance and vehicle speed.”
Mr Parker says the probability of death for cyclists or walkers struck by a vehicle increases rapidly with relatively small increases in speed. A cyclist or walker struck by a vehicle at 45 km/h has about a 50% chance of survival, whereas at 55 km/h the survival rate plummets to around 15%.
“This is one of the reasons why we are 100% behind Police strictly enforcing speed limits to keep the roads safer for everyone this summer.
“The risk of a crash increases at this time of year because there is more traffic and more congestion. Our wish for everyone during the Christmas break is for a safe crash-free holiday. Too many Kiwi families have their holidays marred by avoidable tragedies on the road, but if we all do our part this doesn’t have to be the case,” Mr Parker says.
The following links will help people plan safer holidays:-