Getting the hop on Easter driving

By Liz Dobson

Handy tips to make your journey safer and stress free

As Kiwis make the most of the Easter break - and the continuing daylight savings - our roads will be busy as we head out of town to the beach, bach, camp ground and the bush.

But before you stockpile your hot cross buns and Easter eggs, make sure that both your vehicle and you are ready for the driving you'll be doing next weekend.

*Make sure your vehicle is roadworthy for a long trip and if necessary, book it in with your mechanic early next week for a service. If you are towing a trailer/boat or caravan make sure it is roadworthy too and has a current Warrant of Fitness.

*Check your tyre pressure when your tyres are cold, as under-inflation can cause excessive wear and tear. Correctly inflated tyres will improve your fuel economy. Make sure your spare tyre is in good shape too.

*When packing your car, secure all luggage. If you have to stop suddenly or are in a minor accident you don't want items being thrown around the cabin of the vehicle.

*Just before you leave home, give your car windows a final clean and pay special attention to your windscreen.

*Once you're on the road - and hit the obligatory traffic jams - try to be patient and courteous as you're all stuck in the same situation. If you are towing a trailer or caravan and are holding up traffic on the open road, pull over as often as you can to let traffic pass.

*Keep at least a two-second gap between you and the vehicle ahead. To do this correctly, watch as the vehicle ahead passes a fixed point on the side of the road, such as a tree or power pole, then count the seconds ("one thousand and one, one thousand and two ...") until your vehicle passes the point. If it starts to rain, increase that following distance to three seconds.

*BMW NZ senior driving instructor, Mike Eady, warns that as the sun will be setting later in the day due to daylight savings, drivers should be aware of the risks of sunstrike and have sunglasses available.

*Eady also says that after all the fine weather New Zealand has had recently, if it rains drivers may not be used to being on greasy roads or dealing with puddles. If it rains, Eady says drivers should avoid driving through puddles as you won't know how deep they are and water can affect your brake pads.

*If you are driving a long distance, stop every two hours for a 15-minute break. Plan your trip so you know where rest stops and public toilets are.

*Be aware of speed limits on unknown roads. Remember, during public holidays such as Easter, the 10km/h tolerance has been cut to 4km/h. You don't want to be hit with a speeding fine for driving at 105km/h. On the motorway, set your vehicle's cruise control to 100km/h. Also pay attention to the speed limit as you enter a town as it may change from 100 to 70km/h without you realising.

*If there is more than one driver in the car, share the load. This gives everyone the chance to have a nap if you are driving a long distance.

*When using an overtaking lane, pull over to the left as soon as possible to let other vehicles pass. When overtaking on the open road, the official New Zealand road code states: "Make sure you will be able to see at least 100m of clear road ahead of you once you have finished passing - if not, don't pass; look well ahead to make sure there are no vehicles coming towards you; look behind to make sure there are no vehicles passing you; signal right for at least three seconds before moving out to pass."

- Hamilton News

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