In June we celebrate both Matariki and the shortest day of the year (21 June), but Kiwis will still need to drive to winter conditions for several months with what is often the coldest time yet to come.
“Winter makes roads treacherous in many ways - from heavy rain, to ice, to sunstrike,” says AA Motoring Affairs General Manager Mike Noon.
“Pedestrians and cyclists also need to be cautious and ensure drivers can see them easily by wearing light-coloured clothing and using high vis and lights on bikes because visibility and road conditions can be more challenging for everyone at this time of year.”
Tips for drivers for safer winter trips:
- Keep your windscreens clean – inside and out and washer water full.
- Replace windscreen wiper blades if they’re smearing or not clearing rain completely.
- Check your tyre tread depth is good and tyre pressure is accurate.
- A winter service that checks battery and fluids (including antifreeze) could save you a big breakdown headache.
- Make sure you are prepared for being stuck out - whether it’s due to a crash or bad weather. Permanently keep these things in your car:
- battery jumper cables and other basic breakdown tools
- a torch and gloves
- a first aid kit and blankets
- drinkable water and a few snack bars
- a fully charged cellphone
- Consider whether you really need to travel if the forecast is bad. If you do, try to drive in daylight hours.
“Always turn on your lights if it’s raining or a bit gloomy,” says Mr Noon.
“In heavy rain or icy conditions, you need to increase your following distance from two to at least four seconds, and if you get caught in a downpour slow right down or pull over if you can.
“Motorists should be extremely cautious of trying to drive through any flooded roads. It can be hard to tell how deep or fast flowing the water is, or the road could be washed out, so if in doubt don’t risk it.”
“If it’s very cold you need to beware that there could be ice, particularly on shady sections of road and on bridges,” says Mr Noon.
“Clear, still nights and mornings can be deceptively risky. Often you can’t see ice, so when the temperature has plummeted or there is frost around you need to drive cautiously.
“A four-wheel-drive vehicle is just as likely to lose its grip on icy roads and once a vehicle starts to slide it’s extremely difficult to get it under control again. If the road is slippery because of ice, snow or rain, you need to steer and brake gently and keep your speed down.”
Information about road conditions is published on AA Roadwatch and NZ Transport Agency websites.
For more information contact:
General Manager Motoring Affairs
New Zealand Automobile Association
T. 04 931 9984
M. 021 659 704
E. [email protected]