Drivers are being urged to take the time to plan ahead for a safe trip ahead of this weekend's Auckland Anniversary holiday - one of the busiest times of the year on roads in the Auckland and Northland regions.
The NZ Transport Agency, Police, ACC and the Ministry of Transport are reminding drivers to ensure they are well rested and well prepared before hitting the highways this long weekend.
The NZTA’s State Highways Manager for Auckland and Northland, Tommy Parker, says the long weekend is a timely reminder to people to take care while driving.
“It’s a busy time as people take advantage of the last holiday weekend of the summer,” says Mr Parker. “We want every journey to be a safe one, and we’re aiming for a fatality-free holiday break.”
During 2010 there were 75 confirmed deaths (53 in Auckland and 22 in Northland) and 463 serious injuries on the regions’ roads. In 2009 there were 104 confirmed fatalities in Auckland and Northland, and 81 in 2008.
“The drop in the number of fatalities is welcome, but there is no reason for complacency,” Mr Parker says. “The NZTA will be working with Police and their ‘high profile-high visibility” approach this weekend to ensure people are safe.”
Mr Parker says people need to drive with care at several locations where sections of state highway are being improved. They include:
The NZTA also remind drivers they have a choice of using SH16 rural highway between west Auckland and Wellsford to avoid possible congestion of SH1 north of Auckland. People planning to use the Northern Gateway Toll Road on SH1 can prepay for their trips at www.tollroad.govt.nz(external link) or by freephone 0800 402020.
Holidaymakers going to the Coromandel Peninsula can avoid delays at the Kopu Bridge in Waikato by varying travel times or following a sign-posted detour on SH2 and SH26.
Two busy central Auckland road links will be closed for the weekend from midnight on Friday 28 January: the Fanshawe Street on-ramp to State Highway 1 north, and the section of Gillies Avenue under the Newmarket Viaduct. Detours will be in place, and people who would use the Gillies Avenue off-ramp for Auckland International Airport should follow the marked detour down the Southern Motorway [SH1] until the South Eastern Highway (Onehunga) exit.
The NZ Transport Agency, Police, ACC and the Ministry of Transport have put together some simple tips and advice for people to avoid crashes this anniversary weekend. 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.
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, online at www.nzta.govt.nz/traffic/current-conditions/highway-info/, or by calling 0800 444 449.
2) Give you the tools you need to plan ahead so your journey is safe and enjoyable
All of the information you need is available from the NZTA website - www.nzta.govt.nz/traffic/info/around-nz/holidays.html
3) Put more police on the roads to ensure that everyone sticks to the rules and to deal with any problems that arise
Police will be on the roads in large numbers, highly visible, ensuring that all road users stick to the rules, making the roads safer for everyone.
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 www.kiwirap.co.nz(external link).
2) Check your car before hitting the road
A safe and well maintained car can stop you having a crash and protect you better 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 www.nzta.govt.nz/resources/glovebox-guide-safe-loading-towing/ 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!