Check you and your vehicle are fit for the road this long weekend

Road safety charity Brake is reminding drivers to keep road safety front of mind if they're travelling this Queen's Birthday weekend, and to ensure both they and their vehicles are fit to drive, to help keep themselves and others safe.

As many people head away for the long weekend, the charity is urging drivers to check their vehicles and to take particular care in winter conditions and reduced daylight.

Weather forecasts show changeable conditions, with wet weather for many areas, along with colder temperatures which mean a risk of icy roads for parts of the country. Sunstrike is also a risk when the sun is out.

Brake's key advice for drivers:

  • Check your vehicle before setting off, including tyre tread and pressure, lights, oil and water levels, and windscreen wipers.
  • Avoid driving in treacherous conditions like ice; delay your journey if possible.
  • Slow down, put your lights on and increase your following distance where sunstrike, rain or icy roads may be a risk. Remember stopping distances are at least double in wet weather, and can be at least 10 times greater on icy roads.
  • Look out for people on foot and bike who are harder to spot in wet weather and reduced light.

Brake is also reminding drivers about basic key messages like wearing your seat belt, not using a mobile phone while driving and taking regular breaks on long journeys.

Last year there were two fatal crashes over the Queen's Birthday weekend. Brake is calling on drivers to follow its ABC advice for winter driving to help prevent further tragedies:

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; blanket; 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.

Caroline Perry, Brake's New Zealand director said: "We want everyone to enjoy the long weekend and get to their destinations safely, so we're reminding drivers that there are some key, simple things you can do to reduce risk. Fatigue is a risk, particularly on long journeys, so we're urging drivers to take regular breaks every two hours. Ensuring everyone is wearing a seat belt, and keeping below speed limits is also vital.

"Winter weather and reduced daylight adds to the risks when out on the road, so it's essential that drivers are prepared for the conditions, have checked their vehicle, and avoid taking risks which could result in tragedy.

"Staying 100% focused on the road is essential, so minimise distractions, and put your phone off or on silent and out of reach. This week students around the country have been taking part in the SADD Phone Free 48 campaign, to raise awareness of distracted driving. Brake supports this initiative, which serves as a reminder to everyone that phones and driving don't mix. 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."

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