As many people head away for Labour Day weekend, road safety charity Brake is reminding drivers to help keep themselves and others safe on the roads by following a few simple but essential road safety messages.
The charity is urging drivers to give the road their full attention and ensure everyone in their vehicle is wearing a seat belt or appropriate child restraint on every journey.
Brake is also reminding drivers to make sure both they and their vehicle are fit to drive before setting off, and during the journey. That means having enough sleep before a journey, taking regular breaks during a trip and minimising distractions.
Brake urges drivers to take at least a 15 minute break from driving every two hours during long journeys, and to switch their phone off while they're at the wheel.
Drivers should also conduct key checks of their vehicle before setting off, including: tyre tread depth and pressure; checking all lights and indicators are working; checking oil, water and windscreen wash levels; and ensuring windows and mirrors are clean and clear.
Caroline Perry, Brake's NZ director said: "We want everyone to enjoy the long weekend and get to their destinations safely, so we're reminding drivers that making sure everyone is wearing a seat belt, and being alert at all times when you're behind the wheel is vitally important. If you're involved in a crash, wearing a seat belt significantly reduces the risk of you being killed, so our appeal to drivers is help protect yourself and your loved ones by making sure everyone is wearing one.
"Fatigue and distractions are also risks, so we're urging drivers to pledge to take regular breaks and put your phone off or on silent and out of reach when you're at the wheel, to help save lives. Road crashes are devastating for families and communities, and drivers have a responsibility to do everything they can to keep themselves and other road users safe."
Quick reference facts: driver fatigue
- The most common times for drivers with normal sleep patterns to fall asleep at the wheel are early morning (2am-6am) and early afternoon (2pm-4pm). These times are when the body clock reaches a natural dip, making you sleepy and less able to concentrate .
- The warning signs of falling asleep include: increased difficulty concentrating; yawning; heavy eyelids; eyes starting to 'roll'; and neck muscles relaxing, making the head droop.
Quick reference facts: seat belts
- Wearing a three-point seat belt halves your risk of death if you're involved in a road crash .
- By law children must be in an appropriate child restraint until they are 7 years old, however, Brake and other experts strongly advise parents to go a step further and ensure that all children under 148cm tall are always in a proper child restraint, because adult belts are not sufficient in protecting children under this height.
 Advanced Driver Fatigue Research, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, 2007
 The Handbook of Road Safety Measures, Elsevier Science 2009