New Zealand's weather can change in a flash, which means driving conditions can change suddenly and dramatically. The following driving tips will help you stay safe on the road this winter.
Keep an eye on the weather
Make sure you get the forecast in advance for the days you're driving, check the latest conditions before you depart and stay up to date during your journey with local radio.
Check for changes in your route
Even if you know the roads you're taking, changes in the weather can make driving a familiar route hazardous. Know someone who has made the same journey recently? Ask them if they encountered roadworks, delays or slips.
Day trips are the best
Plan to drive during daylight hours when visibility is improved and potential hazards like ice and snow are easily spotted. Keep driving at night to a minimum during periods of sustained bad weather.
Winter road trip?
Make time to chill.
Share the load
Driving long distances is tiring. If you can share the driving do so. Allow for adequate time to get to your destination, including rest breaks. Make sure you're well rested before departing.
Gas in the tank?
Sometimes the basics can be overlooked. Keep at least half a tank of fuel in your vehicle so if you are diverted to another route or forced to turn back due to bad weather you'll be be prepared extra miles.
If it can wait, take a rain check
If the weather is poor consider if you really need to travel. If you do, choose the best route for your safety, not just the quickest or most convenient. If you're new to the roads when making journeys in bad weather travel with an experienced driver where possible.
On the road
Rain, ice and debris create dangerous driving conditions. Reduce the risk of accidents, drive to the conditions and keep your distance.
- Avoid sudden braking or turning that could cause you to skid. Accelerate smoothly and brake gently.
- Use your highest gear when travelling uphill and your lowest when going downhill.
- It takes longer to stop on slippery and icy roads, especially in poor weather so increase the 2 second gap to 4 between you and the vehicle in front.
- When travelling in fog, rain or snow, drive with your lights dipped for better visibility and the safety of other drivers and pedestrians.
For more information on safer journeys visit www.nzta.govt.nz