Many families will be gearing up for Christmas road trips and it’s also a time of year when our beautiful country attracts large numbers of overseas visitors. Patience and goodwill is needed on our roads to ensure everyone reaches their destination safely.
A particular frustration police typically deal with at this time of the year is slow-moving vehicles such as camper vans and vehicles towing trailers, boats and caravans.
Acting Road Police Manager for Bay of Plenty, Inspector Kevin Taylor said: "Slow moving vehicles or naturally slow drivers can lead to other drivers risking dangerous manoeuvres to try and pass; it’s vital we are mindful of our surroundings and the effects of our driving on others. In circumstances where drivers choose not to be courteous there are a range of offences police can draw on to encourage courtesy. For instance slow or inconsiderate driving which impedes traffic carries a $150 fine. As a general rule of thumb if you have more than half a dozen cars behind you, you should pull over at the first available and safe location and let the traffic pass.”
Fatigue and distraction are also significant risks on our roads at this time of the year, and drivers need to pay extra attention at intersections.
“Two vehicles cannot share the same space at the same time without either breaking or illustrating one of the Laws of Physics. If you apply that to intersections someone will get hurt and that’s not what we want to see. It is all about common sense, courtesy and staying alert and focused on a safe journey,” says Inspector Taylor.
Here are some tips to help reduce the risks on our roads this summer.
- Ensure everyone in the vehicle is belted in safely.
- Protect yourself and those you are sharing the road with by resting well before your trip, staying alert at all times, sharing the driving and taking plenty of breaks.
- Allow extra time for your trip to factor in any unforeseen hold-ups. Reaching your destination early is better than rushing and not reaching your destination at all.
- Distraction comes in many forms - changing the music, unrestrained pets, quarrelling children, things rolling round in the car, eating and putting on make-up are common distractions that risk driver safety.
- Switch off phones while driving or pull over to make or receive calls.
- Visitors may be unfamiliar with NZ roads so be patient and considerate; someone killed on our roads is a tragedy regardless of where the victim is from. Police are aware of concerns around visiting drivers but nationally only around 6% of all crashes involve a visiting driver.
- Visiting drivers are required to follow exactly the same road rules as every other motorist and Police deals with them in the same way as they would with anyone else.
- Consider how your driving behaviour affects the safety of themselves, your passengers, and other road users.
- We encourage people to report unsafe driving on *555 (or 111 in emergency or life-threatening situations).
- We urge motorists not to take the law into their own hands, but to call Police.
- Take extra care at intersections; be 100% sure the road is clear before you proceed and remember STOP means STOP
- Check your speed; remember it’s better to be late than dead.
General road safety advice if you are taking a trip over the holidays:
- Have your car serviced or at least do some basic maintenance checks - oil, water, wiper blades and tyres. Most tyre companies will provide pressure checks, top-us and puncture repairs for free.
- Map out your route.
- Check the weather and anticipated road conditions.
- Have a full tank of fuel and on a long trip work out in advance where you intend to re-fuel. Remember not all service stations are open 24hrs.
- Don't just re-fuel your vehicle. Take regular rest breaks. New Zealand has a great cafe coffee culture so make the most of it. Keep bottled water in the vehicle to ensure you stay hydrated.
- Make sure there is plenty to keep children occupied. Bored and restless children are a distraction and can stress a driver.
- Keep an emergency pack to hand with water, snacks, warm clothing and a first-aid kit in case of a breakdown. If you have a mobile phone make sure it is fully charged for an emergency but remember it is against the law to use it while driving.
This advice forms part of the 12 Crime of Christmas campaign by Central District Police who wish you a very merry and safe Christmas and New Year.
Media enquiries should be referred to Communications Manager Kim Perks on 027 234 8256.