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Queen’s Birthday Weekend road warning: Heavy traffic and changeable weather conditions

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One of the busiest weekends on New Zealand roads is coming up. With thousands of Kiwis heading out on long road journeys, Police, the NZ Transport Agency (NZTA), and ACC are urging drivers to take care and be prepared for heavy traffic, delays, and changeable weather conditions.

“The roads will be busy, particularly on Friday evening,” says Police’s National Manager of Road Policing Superintendent Steve Greally.

“If you’re driving, stay alert, be patient, and don’t rush – the lives of you and your passengers are worth more than arriving a few minutes earlier.”

Police will have an active and visible presence throughout the weekend, targeting high-risk driving behaviours and focusing on highways and open roads that are popular holiday journey routes.

“More than 160 people have died on our roads this year. Tragically, many of those deaths could have been prevented if everyone took these four simple and proven road safety actions that prevent serious injury and death on our roads,” says Superintendent Greally.

“Make sure everyone has their seatbelts on; remove distractions and stay focused on driving; don’t get behind the wheel if you’ve been drinking or are tired; and drive at a safe speed for the conditions.

“Put road safety first and make sure you, and everyone else on the road, gets to their destinations safely and unharmed.”

Last year 427 serious injuries claims were made to ACC because of crashes and driving incidents during Queen’s Birthday Weekend, says Isaac Carlson, ACC’s Head of Injury Prevention.

“We need to be considerate of those most vulnerable on our roads, like motorcyclists and young drivers (aged 16 to 24),” he says.

“It takes everyone on the road to make it safe. Be aware of the increased number of vehicles around you, pay extra attention on open roads and in rural areas, and adjust your speed to the driving conditions.”

Drivers should also make sure their vehicle is equipped for long journeys and bad weather before they leave, NZTA’s General Manager of Safety, Health and Environment Greg Lazzaro explains.

“We want everyone to have a safe journey over the long weekend, so we’re encouraging drivers to take a few minutes to check their vehicles are up to scratch before hitting the road,” he says.

“The easiest way is to do a quick ‘TWIRL’ test. That means checking Tyres, Wipers, Indicators, Rust, and Lights.

“Check your tyres for pressure and tread; check that your wiper blades are in a good condition in case of bad weather; check your indicators are working, especially if you’re towing; check there are no signs of rust; and check that your lights and headlights are in working order.”

Police, NZTA and ACC encourage all drivers to report any dangerous driving behaviour or other immediate risks on the road to 111. Inconsiderate driving behaviour, or urgent but not life threatening driving incidents, can be reported to Police by calling *555 free from a mobile.

From 4pm Friday 31 May to 6am Tuesday 4 June drivers detected by a safe speed camera exceeding the area’s posted speed limit by more than 4 km/h will be ticketed, says Superintendent Greally.

“Our officers will still have discretion in how they deal with incidents and how they are enforced,” he says.

“As always, Police’s focus is on preventing harm on our roads.”

More tips for safe long-distance driving from NZ Police and the NZTA:

  • Drive with your headlights on and be seen.
  • Increase following distances.
  • Avoid travelling in bad weather if you can.
  • If you’re driving a long distance, take regular breaks and share the driving when you can.
  • Don’t attempt to overtake traffic unless it’s completely safe to do so – it’s not worth the risk.
  • If you are towing or driving slowly, pull over regularly to let other vehicles pass.
  • Plan your journey and prepare for delays.
  • Use the interactive map at www.nzta.govt.nz/holidayjourneys(external link) to see predicted traffic flow based on previous year’s Queen’s Birthday Weekend.
  • Real time travel information, as well as updates on delays, roadworks and road closures, can be found at www.journeys.nzta.govt.nz(external link) or by calling 0800 4 HIGHWAYS.
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