Take care during ‘busiest Easter’ on our roads

The NZ Transport Agency is urging drivers to take care during what is shaping up to be the busiest Easter ever on New Zealand roads.

The Transport Agency’s Road Safety Director Ernst Zollner says that with 279,000 more vehicles on the country’s roads now compared to a year ago, the potential risks for drivers are also on the rise.

'Our population is increasing, our economy is growing, petrol prices are relatively low, and all of that is translating to more vehicles being driven greater distances on our roads. That means the risk of crashes is also greater, which makes it even more important to do the simple but important things to keep safe.

'We all need to approach the long weekend with a ‘safety first’ mind-set to minimise the chances of making mistakes that can cost lives and cause serious injuries.'

Holiday periods also mean motorists are more likely to spend many hours behind the wheel. Long trips are tiring, and fatigue can be deadly behind the wheel, especially on unfamiliar roads.

Extra road traffic can also bring longer queues and more frustration which in turn means drivers are more likely to overtake unsafely or make other mistakes which can lead to a crash.

There was 1 fatal crash and 101 reported injury crashes during the Easter holiday period last year, resulting in one death and 29 serious injuries. Nearly all of those crashes occurred on the open road and 40 per cent were the result of a driver losing control or running off the road.

'We all make mistakes some times, but mistakes on the road can have serious or even deadly consequences, so ensure your car is road fit, keep your speeds down, drive to the conditions and stay alert.

'Reducing your speed is also one of the simplest ways of reducing the risk to you, your passengers and other road users, because it reduces the impact if you or someone else on the road makes a mistake.'

Planning ahead and using real-time traffic and travel information before you set out and during your journey will also help you avoid the worst travel delays.

Check our Traffic and Travel pages at www.nzta.govt.nz(external link). Or plan ahead by signing up to www.onthemove.govt.nz(external link) to get email notifications about road and traffic conditions on the route you plan to travel.

Don’t forget to check twitter and facebook for regular updates on delays, incidents and congestion hotspots(external link).

Here are some simple ways to stay safe on the road this Easter:

  • Check your vehicle is safe – tyres, indicators, windshield wipers, lights.
  • Get plenty of sleep before your journey, and try to drive at times of the day when you are normally awake.
  • If possible, share the driving.
  • Take your time and plan for rest breaks every couple of hours. Get out of your vehicle and take a short walk or do some other exercise to get your blood flowing and improve alertness. If you feel tired, take a short nap (less than 40 minutes).
  • Don’t drink and drive, and don’t speed. Many fatigue crashes also involve these two factors.
  • Use air conditioning if your vehicle has it. While it will increase fuel consumption, cool air will also keep you more alert and help avoid frustration and stress - major causes of fatigue.