Waikato motorists are being encouraged to plan ahead to minimise delays and keep themselves and other road users safe as winter weather sets in.
Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency Waikato System Manager Cara Lauder says while we have had a summer that has seemed to keep going, we are now seeing a drop in overnight temperatures, and more cold, wet, windy days.
"The change in weather is a good prompt to think about safe winter driving. Ice, fog, rain and snow can make for treacherous road conditions.
"Allow extra time for your journeys and drive to the road and weather conditions. Small isolated shaded areas of road can be icy too, not just obvious areas like the Desert Road.
"It's a good idea to maintain a greater following distance between your vehicle and the one in front, and to slow down and be prepared for unexpected hazards.
"Ensure your car is safe, roadworthy and well equipped for winter driving, with a safe spare tyre, lights, brakes and windscreen wipers all working, and a clean windscreen inside and out."
Lauder says people should also consider ensuring their cellphones are well charged, and to carry a car phone charger or power bank.
You should also carry blankets, snacks and a bottle of water in case of an emergency or breakdown.
Waka Kotahi's website contains more easy tips for safe winter driving. "With the relaxing of Covid -19 restrictions, we are likely to see much more traffic on our roads," says Lauder.
Winter driving tips
• Check weather and travel conditions on highways before you start your trip and on breaks throughout your journey.
• Ensure your car is safe and equipped: spare tyre, warrant of fitness up to date, lights, brakes and wind-wipers all working, clean windscreen inside and out, check tyre treads to ensure good grip.
• If you are travelling long distances, share the driving and have regular breaks.
• Wear your seat belt throughout the journey and check your passengers have theirs clicked in too.
• Driving on roads that are exposed to snow and ice can be treacherous, so slow down and drive to the conditions, not the allowable/legal speed limit. Increase the following distance between you and the vehicle ahead.
• Be prepared when travelling in case of delays on the road, particularly in alpine conditions. Make sure you have warm clothes/food/water/charged mobile phone. In an emergency, phone 111. Bear in mind some parts of the highway have no cell coverage.
• Learn about winter driving, including how to get your vehicle ready and if you are driving in an area where chains may be needed, practise putting them on before you go so you are not caught out.
• Plan ahead for a safe, enjoyable journey. Keep up to date with: Journey planner .