Avoid driving in wild weather says road safety charity

Brake the road safety charity is appealing to drivers to check weather forecasts and avoid driving in treacherous weather this Easter weekend, to help prevent tragedies on roads.

As Easter coincides with the start of the school holidays, many people will be planning to head away for the long weekend. But with cyclone Cook forecast to bring extreme weather conditions, Brake is urging drivers to delay travel or avoid driving altogether.

Brake is calling on drivers to follow its ABC advice for bad weather driving:

Avoid driving in treacherous conditions. Avoid driving in bad conditions like heavy rain, strong winds and when visibility is poor. Delay your journey if possible or use alternative modes of transport.

Be prepared. Make sure your vehicle is well maintained. Before setting off do a walk round check of your vehicle:

  • Check your tyres have a tread depth of at least 3mm. Any less than that is particularly dangerous in wet weather. Also check tyre pressure and look for any cracks or bulges that may indicate a problem with the tyre.
  • Check your lights are clean and are working.
  • Check oil and water levels, and that other fluids such as power steering, windscreen washer and brake fluid, are well above minimum levels before setting off on a long journey.
  • Check wiper blades are in full working order and are clearing the windscreen.

Check forecasts and plan your route to avoid roads likely to be more risky, and allow plenty of time. Carry an emergency kit with a torch; cloths; food and drink; first-aid kit; warning triangle and high-visibility vest in case you get stuck. Always take a fully charged phone in case of emergencies, but don't be tempted to use it when driving.

Careful and cautious driving. If you do get caught out driving in treacherous conditions, you need to slow right down to increase the distance between you and the vehicle in front. In rain your stopping distance at least doubles, so keep at least a four second gap between you and the car in front. Keep a careful look out for people on foot and bikes who may be harder to spot. Avoid harsh braking and acceleration and carry out manoeuvres slowly and with extra care. Be patient with other drivers.

Caroline Perry, Brake's New Zealand director said: "Road crashes tear apart families and communities so we're calling on drivers to do everything possible to avoid tragedies over the long weekend and school holidays. Bad weather and reduced daylight adds to the risks when out on the road, so it is essential that drivers are prepared for the conditions, drive carefully, and avoid taking risks which could result in tragedy. Heavy rain and high winds make driving incredibly risky; stopping distances increase, and if you can't see clearly you can't react to hazards. We are urging drivers to be prepared, check the weather forecast, and listen to weather warnings and traffic updates. If you are travelling, make sure your vehicle is properly maintained and you check it before setting off. If you get caught out by the weather the most critical thing is to slow right down and keep your distance so you have time to stop in an emergency."

Brake is calling on members of the public to play their part in making roads safer by getting involved in Road Safety Week 2017 (8-14 May). The Week coincides with the UN Global Road Safety Week and the theme is speed, calling on drivers to Save Lives #SlowDown. To find out more and register to be part of the Week, go to www.roadsafetyweek.org.nz.

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