With two deaths on Bay of Plenty roads within two weeks and pre-lockdown traffic levels and winter conditions approaching, police say extra caution and sensible driving is needed now.
Within two weeks of Covid-19 alert level 2 restrictions coming into force on May 14 two people have been killed on Bay of Plenty roads - a driver died in a single vehicle crash on SH5 near Ngongotahā on Monday and on May 18
49-year-old Corey William King of Tauranga died in a two-vehicle crash in Judea.
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With more vehicles on the road and the hazardous conditions that come with winter, Bay of Plenty roading police manager Inspector Brent Crowe is urging drivers to do all they can to ensure safe journeys.
Crowe said for the most part driver behaviour had been good, however, police were concerned at a rise in speeds in the upper limits, especially on open roads.
"As we ease out of level 4 and 3 restrictions, traffic volume on Bay of Plenty roads is returning to pre-Covid levels.
"With increased traffic volume and high speeds comes more crashes and unfortunately the Bay of Plenty has recorded two fatal crashes since our move out of level 4."
Crowe said the need for sensible driving was even more important as we head into winter.
"With us coming out of Covid restrictions and heading into winter, drivers will need to make some adjustments. With the roads becoming wet and icy, increase following distances, drive to the conditions and stay focused on the task at hand; getting from A to B safely."
Triple One Towing and Transport owner Billy Macfarlane, whose services include removing written off vehicles from crash scenes in Rotorua and the wider Bay of Plenty region, said he had definitely been busier since moving to level 2.
"Level 4 was quiet, just a couple of crashes but not many call-outs, just about nothing. Usually we're on the go, non-stop all day. In normal times we probably have between three and five crashes a week we get called to.
"We were really busy in the first couple of weeks, there was a lot of backlog with general cartage of equipment and machinery which couldn't be done during lockdown. There have been a few more crashes and I'm definitely seeing a lot of near misses when I'm out on the road."
It was not just accidents which had increased in level 2. Macfarlane said a lot more people were having mechanical issues after their cars had been out of use for so long during lockdown.
"I've noticed there's been a few jump-starts and battery issues. Batteries generally don't like, after everyday use, all of a sudden not being used. We've actually got a lot of calls for that sort of thing.
"[Heading into winter] vehicle maintenance is really important. Check your tyres, check your lights, all that sort of thing. We've had all this dry weather too so there will be a lot of oil on the road, be aware of that and keep your distance."
Tips for driving in poor, wintery conditions:
• Check your route is free from slips and closures.
• Don't rush – slow down and allow plenty of time to reach your destination.
• Go back to basics – mirror and blind spot checks, indicating three seconds ahead of turning and leaving a four second following distance.
• Drive defensively – scan the road 12 seconds ahead of you and ensure you can smoothly stop in the distance you can see.
• Ensure you can see and be seen - use your headlights correctly.
- Source: aa.co.nz