Staying safe on the roads over Xmas

by Ngaire Tinning

Like the rest of New Zealand, roads in Selwyn will become increasingly busy over the next few weeks with higher traffic volumes and a variety of different vehicles.

As Christmas holiday season approaches many of these drivers will be heading off on holiday or having at least a few days away to catch up with family and friends.

When travelling it is always important to allow enough time to get to your destination, drive with patience and avoid taking unnecessary risks.

Holiday traffic will also include many extra campervans and other vehicles towing boats, caravans or trailers. If you are towing, the maximum speed limit on the open road is 90 km/h. Keep left and pull over when it is safe to let other vehicles pass.

Keep a safe following distance between yourself and the vehicle in front will allow you enough distance should the vehicle in front of you stop suddenly.

Holiday driving often means spending several hours behind the wheel.

Long journeys can be tiring, and tiredness can be fatal if you don’t recognise the signs.

Get plenty of sleep before your journey, and try to drive at times of the day when you are normally awake. Plan for rest breaks from driving every couple of hours. Get out of your vehicle and even take a short walk to improve alertness.

If you do start feeling tired, take a short break, or if possible, share the driving.

Use the air conditioning if your vehicle has it as cool air will keep you more alert and will help avoid frustration and stress, which are major causes of fatigue.

The safety belt is one of the top safety features in your vehicle and only takes split second to buckle up. No-one wants to be involved in a crash but that small step increases your chance of avoiding serious injury by up to 40% if the unfortunate occurs.

It is the driver’s responsibility to make sure that all passengers under 15 years are restrained either in a seat belt or an approved child seat suitable to their size and weight.

Excessive speed, or inappropriate speed for the conditions, is regrettably all too common at this time of year. With some travellers wanting to get to their destination as soon as possible, frustration with slower or heavy traffic can sometimes cause drivers to make unsafe decisions, particularly when overtaking or pulling out at intersections.

It is encouraging to know our Police will be out on our roads to strictly enforce the speed limits when needed and encourage drivers to travel at a safe speed that suits the road conditions and the environment.

Their efforts, combined with the support from all road users will result in a safer journey for everyone.