Charity urges drivers to take extra care in wintry conditions

Brake, the road safety charity, is calling on New Zealand drivers to give the roads their full attention and not to take risks as wintry conditions continue to blast the country.

With snow, ice, rain and cold weather sweeping much of the country Brake is reminding drivers of its ABC advice for winter driving:

Avoid driving in treacherous conditions. Avoid driving in bad conditions like heavy rain, strong winds, ice and snow. 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 and icy conditions. 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. In ice and snow your stopping distance can be at least ten times as far. 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.

Brake is also urging drivers not to take risks on the road and to follow its Pledge for safe driving:

Slow: Drive within speed limits, drive at 30km/h or lower in communities, and slow down on rural roads too. Avoid overtaking unless you're sure it's safe.

Sober: If driving, don't drink any alcohol, or take any illegal drugs or medication that could affect driving.

Sharp: Drive alert - not tired, ill or stressed. Get a good night's sleep before driving and take breaks every two hours. Have an eye test at least every two years and wear glasses or contact lenses if needed.

Silent: Phone off or on message service. Minimise other distractions such as sat nav/GPS and tuning the radio as much as possible.

Secure: Always belt up and insist that everyone else in the vehicle does the same and adjusts head restraints. If travelling with children, ensure you have correctly fitted, appropriate child restraints. Ensure your vehicle is well-maintained and serviced.

Sustainable: Only drive when you have to.

Caroline Perry, Brake's New Zealand director said: "Ice, snow and heavy rain significantly increase the risks on roads, so it is essential that drivers are prepared for the conditions, drive carefully, and avoid taking risks which could result in tragedy. Stopping distances are double in the wet, and can be ten times greater in ice or snow. Drivers also need to be extra vigilant for people and hazards, if you can't see clearly because of rain or snow you can't react to hazards. We are urging drivers to be prepared, make sure your vehicle is properly maintained and you have an emergency kit. 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. Following our simple Pledge also helps drivers to protect themselves and others, and avoid situations that put lives at risk."

For media queries contact Caroline Perry on 021 407 953 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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