Safety first when driving to summer festivals

Teen drivers are being urged to take care on the roads when heading to summer festivals including Raggamuffin and Parachute.

New Zealand Transport Agency chief executive Geoff Dangerfield said summer could be a nerve racking time for parents as their children headed off to music festivals, often for the first time.

To help parents ensure their teen will be safe on the roads this summer the transport agency is providing advice and free tools via a dedicated website.

The website encourages parents to work with their teen to identify hazards they may encounter when travelling by themselves, and how to manage them.

"We're urging parents to stay involved and help keep their teens safe on the roads this summer as they drive long distances to summer festivals around the country," Mr Dangerfield said.

"Long after teens get their licence they will face situations on the road they haven't encountered before and being prepared will help them stay safe."

He said driving to a festival could be a daunting task for a teen who hadn't yet experienced narrow, winding roads, road works, sun-strike, holiday-makers towing boats, heavy traffic and fatigue.

"Getting in the car with them to practise before they set off can be a good way to help them manage the risks when they're on their own, even if they have already driven by themselves."

To provide teens with specific advice to help them arrive at their summer festival destination safely, the Safe Teen Driver website also features a Summer Festivals Map, which gives advice on some key routes and highlights conditions that some teens might not have experienced before.

"As part of the trip-planning process for festival-goers, parents and teens should plan the route they will take to the festival before they leave, so they can focus more on driving and less on finding their way."

Mr Dangerfield said it was also important to make sure your teen understood how to drive to the conditions, and adjust their speed when the road, weather or traffic conditions changed.

He said driving too fast for the conditions was the most common factor in teen driver crashes.

"As well as safe driving tips for teens, the Safe Teen Driver website features tips for parents on some of the most effective ways to talk to your teen about safe driving."

To find advice on how to get safely to Parachute, Raggamuffin, Womad and Homegrown visit


Tips for planning a journey:

Drive by daylight

Does your teenager know that driving at night requires more energy, concentration and experience? Encourage daytime driving when it is easier to spot hazards, visibility is better and they are less likely to feel fatigued.

The four second rule

Even a New Zealand summer has its fair share of wet weather. Weather conditions can affect stopping distance - it takes longer for your teenager to stop on slippery, wet roads. In poor weather, encourage your teen to double the two-second rule to create a safe distance behind the car they're following.

Sun strike secrets

Most teenagers love the sun, but do they know how to avoid sun strike? To help minimise the effects, tell your teenager to keep their windscreen clean (inside and out), wear sunglasses when driving and use the car's sun visors to block it out. Let them know that sometimes the only safe thing to do is pull over and wait for a few minutes until the angle of the sun changes.

Heavy traffic

Everyone loves to go on holiday over the summer season, and often this means teens will encounter heavy traffic as they travel to the summer festivals. Remind them that in these situations the best response is to be patient, reduce their speed and regularly scan the road to be aware of their surroundings.

The day after

After the big event is over, it's important your teen knows not to push their limits on the way home. Talk to them about driver fatigue, encourage them to get some rest and to eat breakfast before hitting the road in the morning. If possible they should share the driving with others who are also well-rested.


Getting to summer festivals:

Parachute Festival, Hamilton

January 25-27

Teens will need to drive with extra care on SH1 Huntly to Hamilton as it's a high crash area.

On the 1 December 2012, the new Te Rapa Section of the Waikato Expressway will open, which bypasses the existing SH1 past the Base Shopping Centre. Watch out for signs at either end of the Expressway and take extra care.

Because Parachute coincides with Auckland Anniversary weekend, the roads will be very busy. There may queues and delays for traffic travelling through Huntly, Hamilton and Cambridge. Allow plenty of time for your journey and take regular breaks.

If travelling from Tauranga, the Kaimai Hill on SH29 is likely to be busy. A lot of trucks use this road, and at night and in wet weather care should be taken.

Raggamuffin, Rotorua

February 1-2

The roads from Auckland to Rotorua are good, but caution should be taken in high traffic volumes, likely to be from Auckland to Tirau.

The sections of road where teens will need to drive with extra care include; SH1 Huntly to Hamilton and Hamilton to Tirau (high crash areas) and SH36 - the Mangorewa Gorge is windy and extreme care should be taken.

On the 1 December 2012, the new Te Rapa Section of the Waikato Expressway will open, which bypasses the existing SH1 past the Base Shopping Centre. Watch out for signs at either end of the Expressway and take extra care.

Approaching Rotorua from the south there is likely to be plenty of traffic on SH1 between Waiouru and Taupo. The road is particularly winding on the stretch of desert road South of Turangi and immediately north of Turangi on the edge of Lake Taupo. Watch out for traffic pulling out onto the highway from the campsites next to the Lake.

Jim Beam Homegrown, Wellington Waterfront

March 2

Wellington is a busy urban centre so you should get your teen to practice driving in busy traffic with you. Make sure they know how to plan their route through town so they can concentrate on handling the traffic and not be distracted by trying to navigate.

If they're coming to Wellington from the North on SH2 then the segment that winds through the Rimutakas should be driven with extra care. They'll need to allow plenty of time, especially through the road works on the Wellington side of the summit.

SH1 and 2 approaching Wellington from the north are busy motorways so teens need to practice driving on this type of road. They'll need to know how to anticipate what other vehicles will do, keep position in their lane and get into the correct lane to get off the motorway in plenty of time.

They should also think about parking options before they arrive as parking is limited in the city centre. It's not a camping festival so if they're staying overnight in town they'll need to make sure the car is safely parked and that they can get back to where they're staying by walking or public transport.

They should use public transport wherever possible. For Intercity National Bus Services, schedules & bookings go to For trains, go to For public transport around the Wellington region go to

Womad, New Plymouth

March 15-17

New Plymouth is 4.5 hours from Auckland or 5 hours from Wellington. Teens who have never driven for this long need to understand how important it is to take breaks at least every two hours and get plenty of rest before starting the journey. This is equally important for the return journey.

The most direct route from Auckland is via SH1 turning at Ngaruawahia onto SH39 and then joining SH3 at Otorohanga. Your teen can then follow SH3 south all the way through to New Plymouth via Te Kuiti.

If coming from Auckland on SH3, the section of road through Mt Messenger (50-60km north of New Plymouth) is steep, narrow and very winding. There is a high proportion of petrol tankers on this road which sometimes leaves little room on the narrower sections. It's important to slow down even more when approaching tight corners and narrow sections to make room for trucks coming the other way. It should be avoided at night if possible. This section of road could be daunting for a teen driver and you should let them know what to expect.

The most direct route from Wellington is via SH1 turning at Sanson onto SH3 to head north to New Plymouth via Whanganui and Hawera.

If approaching New Plymouth from the south, the section of SH3 between Wanganui and Hawera is windy and could be demanding for a teen driver. The section of SH3 between Hawera and New Plymouth is generally straight, but there are some tight out of context curves that can be a trap for new drivers unfamiliar with the road. You need to let you teen know that they need to be alert for these sorts of corners.

SH43 from Taumarunui to Stratford (The Forgotten World Highway) is not a recommended route for a novice or intermediate level driver as it is a tight twisting road with a lot of steep drops and sections are unsealed.


- Rotorua Daily Post

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