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Start your holiday journey online this Easter

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Heavy traffic is a certainty over the Easter break for motorists heading in and out of Wellington, and the Transport Agency is reminding motorists that a quick check online can save a lot of time and keep you and your family safe.

“You can’t stop the rain. You might not be able to keep your kids in the back seat quiet. But you can check online to see if the coast is clear.

“Picking up your mouse or your smartphone before you pick up your keys can save a lot of hassle, and potentially keep you out of harm’s way.”

“Our online real time highway information service will tell you whether there are any travel warnings or closures ahead. You can also check out the cameras to see how traffic is moving in and out of the city. This means you can leave enough time to choose the best route and make the journey safely and without rushing.”

Mark Owen Regional Performance Manager, Central says the lousy weather means that crashes, slips and road closures are more likely, which makes planning your journey all the more important.

“The worse the weather is, the higher the risk. Simple things can save your life – doubling your following distances, treating corners with respect, and travelling at lower speeds than you would in dry conditions.”

Mr Owen also urges motorists to share the driving if possible, avoid alcohol before driving, and get plenty of rest before a big trip and stop for regular breaks.

Passing lane closures, Otaki traffic measures and Otaihanga Roundabout

During peak travel times, the Transport Agency will be closing the SH1 northbound passing lanes north of Te Horo, as well as the southbound passing lane, north of Otaki.

The closure of the northbound passing lanes will take effect on Thursday and Good Friday, and will be reopened when traffic eases.

On Easter Monday, the Transport Agency will close the SH 1 southbound passing lane, north of Otaki, and reopen it when traffic eases.

There will also be passing lane closures over Anzac weekend.

Mr Owen says the closure of the passing lanes, which is supported by the Police, is done to improve safety and traffic flows during the holiday peaks.

"Passing lanes work well when the traffic is free flowing, but when traffic is backed up, they get exploited by queue jumpers.  When the queue jumpers try to merge back into the queue, it disrupts traffic flow, and can cause nose to tail crashes.

"Closing passing lanes during holiday peaks actually means more vehicles get through and it’s safer for everyone.

“The lanes will be appropriately signposted and fenced off with traffic cones, and we’re reminding people to obey the normal road rules by keeping left.

“If traffic remains heavy, passing lanes will remain closed longer until we are satisfied traffic flows have reduced.”

Mr Owen says NZTA will also be providing temporary traffic management measures, within the Otaki Township to improve traffic flow.  He says the Transport Agency will be monitoring the situation onsite and managing traffic measures dynamically depending on traffic flow.

This will include local traffic diversions to minimise the merging of traffic at the roundabout for travellers’ return trip south into Wellington. 

This includes closing Mill Road and banning traffic from turning out of Mill Road onto the highway or Rahui Road. Traffic will be allowed to turn onto Mill Road from SH1 or Rahui Road.

Parallel parking spaces on SH1 outside the shops will be made longer to make it easier and quicker for drivers to park and to minimise traffic queues.

Mr Owen says the Otaihanga Roundabout has been opened to two lanes and has a new surface in time for Easter as planned. This will help to improve traffic flow, but congestion is still expected over the next few days due to the sheer volumes of holidaymakers leaving the city.

Mr Owen says there are plenty of ways for the public to keep up to date with traffic conditions so they can make informed travel choices and reduce the chance of hitting trouble on the highway. People can check the Transport Agency’s website(external link) for travel information before heading out, they can call 0800 4 HIGHWAYS, and can also subscribe for email updates at www.onthemove.govt.nz(external link).

Getting there in one piece

Here are the Transport Agency’s top tips for driving safely during the Easter break.

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, and even you as a driver (for example being tired or on medication that might affect your driving).

Watch out for fatigue. Long trips are tiring and fatigue can be deadly behind the wheel. Get a good night’s sleep beforehand, and plan in advance where you’ll take breaks along the way.

Keep your cool. Holiday driving can be frustrating with busy roads 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 and DVDs 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.  And remember that the laws about child restraints changed on 1 November, so children must be properly restrained by an approved child restraint until their 7th birthday.

Mr Owen says that it’s important to remember that we all play a part in making our roads safer for everyone using them.
  
“We all make mistakes sometimes, but mistakes on the road can have serious or even deadly consequences.  Staying alert, keeping your speeds down, being courteous and driving to the conditions are all key elements of a safe journey for you and your passengers this Easter.”

Find out about making every journey safer by visiting www.saferjourneys.govt.nz(external link).

For more information please contact:

Anthony Frith
Media Manager – Central
NZ Transport Agency
T: 04 894 5251
M: 027 213 7617
E: anthony.frith@nzta.govt.nz

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