NZTA has released a tool to help New Zealanders avoid the worst of Christmas holiday traffic this summer.
The Holiday Journeys Traffic Prediction tool aims to help drivers plan ahead and minimise delays on the road by showing predicted traffic flows across popular State Highways over the Christmas and New Year period based on previous years' patterns.
NZTA Waka Kotahi senior journey manager Neil Walker says holiday traffic is predicted to be particularly busy from domestic tourism this year since there's a lack of international travel options.
"Kiwis will be exploring our own backyard in record numbers, and that means the roads to and from our popular holiday spots are likely to be very busy," he says.
"Some congestion and delays are inevitable in peak times, and starting your trip at non-peak times can make the journey safer and more enjoyable."
When using the summer journey planner, users click red markers, which signify different popular roads, on a map of New Zealand and find out the days and times where traffic will be lightest or heaviest.
"We're encouraging people to use our holiday journeys tool to help plan their trips, but it's hard to predict exactly what travel patterns will look like this summer with international tourists out of the mix and more Kiwis on the road, so we're also encouraging people to check our real-time updates online before they leave," Walker says.
Walker also urges drivers to do their part to stay safe on the roads these holidays.
"If everyone leaves plenty of time for their journey, drives to the conditions and plans ahead before leaving home, the worst of the frustrations can be eased and everyone can concentrate on arriving safely at their destination. We want you here for Christmas - please drive safely."
NZTA's tips for safe holiday journeys
- Plan ahead. Make sure your vehicle is safe to drive and has a current Warrant of Fitness. Check your tyre pressure, lights and indicators, windscreen and wipers before you head off, and plan ahead to avoid peak traffic where you can. Build in extra time for rest stops or sightseeing breaks along the way.
- Don't drink and drive. Your judgement and reaction times behind the wheel begin to deteriorate after even one drink. Also, be aware of any medication you’re taking that might affect your driving.
- Watch out for fatigue. Long trips are tiring and fatigue can be deadly behind the wheel. Get a good night's sleep beforehand, plan in advance where you'll take breaks, and share the driving if you can.
- Slow down and drive to the conditions. This isn't just about the speed limit, it's also about the weather conditions, the road you're on, the traffic, your vehicle and load, your following distance, and adjusting your driving for wet and windy conditions.
- Keep your cool. Holiday driving can be frustrating with busy roads, stifling heat, and restless kids in the car, so be courteous and patient on the roads. Don't get provoked by other drivers' aggressive behaviour, and wait to overtake until you get to a passing lane or can see plenty of clear road ahead of you to do it safely. And be sure to take enough games, books, or electronics to keep the kids occupied along the way.
- Buckle up. Don't let your family holiday be marred by tragedy simply because someone didn't buckle up. If you're the driver, you are legally responsible for making sure all passengers under the age of 15 are securely restrained with either a safety belt or child restraint. Children must be properly restrained by an approved child restraint until their 7th birthday.