Motorists warned to take it easy

Easter holiday traffic is expected to be on the go-slow due to wet weather. Photo / Christine Cornege
Easter holiday traffic is expected to be on the go-slow due to wet weather. Photo / Christine Cornege

Seat belts, speed, fatigue and drunk driving will be a focus for police over the official Easter holiday road toll period, which kicked off at 4pm today.

Drivers will be allowed only 4km/h over the limit, instead of 10, as police also target high risk drivers, those who fail to keep left at all times, and motorists who drive too slowly or are distracted.

Aside from battling traffic congestion, drivers will also have to deal with wet and windy weather which is forecast for much of the country, and the Automobile Association (AA) said maintaining a safe following distance was even more crucial this weekend.

"When the roads are wet or visibility poor, drivers should double their following distance to four seconds,'' AA spokesman Dylan Thomsen said.

On a dry road in good conditions drivers should maintain a two second following distance.

State Insurance is also setting up driver rest stop areas along some of the country's main highways to encourage drivers to stop for a rest.

Police are urging motorists to travel carefully, and will increase their visibility on the roads for the entire weekend.

They will encourage slower drivers to pull over safely to allow traffic to flow smoothly, and checks will be made that even rear-seat passengers are buckled in.

The chief executive of Australia New Zealand Policing Advisory Agency, Jon White, said some motorists regarded breaking the speed limits and getting caught as unlucky.

"But the consequences of driving too fast can be very serious. Moderating speed is critical in having safer roads and reducing the chances of injury or death.''

Wellington District road policing manager Inspector Pete Baird warned those travelling out of Wellington there would be bottlenecks on the roads.

``There will be delays on Thursday evening and Good Friday as Wellingtonians head north, and we urge all motorists to be patient. Drivers should also expect delays as they head back into the region on Easter Monday too.''

Acting Southern District road policing manager Senior Sergeant Steve Larking said Southern police were expecting high volumes in traffic over the weekend, particularly around the Wanaka area for the Warbirds Over Wanaka International Airshow.

Last year five people died on the country's roads between 4pm on Thursday and 6am Tuesday; the official holiday road toll period.

Twelve people were killed on the roads over the Easter break in 2010, which was the highest Easter death toll since 1993.

- APNZ

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