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Source: New Zealand Transport Agency

As we enter the busy Christmas and New Year holiday period, Waka Kotahi NZ Transport is encouraging motorists travelling in and out of Hawke’s Bay to plan ahead and avoid delays by checking the online holiday journeys traffic prediction tool.

Holiday Journeys traffic prediction tool(external link)

The tool shows predicted traffic flow across popular journeys over the holiday period, based on previous year’s travel patterns.

“It’s been a stressful year for many people who will be looking forward to a well-deserved holiday. With fewer people heading overseas and more Kiwis travelling domestically, we expect that holiday traffic will be particularly busy this year,” Regional Transport Systems Manager Oliver Postings says.

“Traffic is often heavy on our roads during the Christmas and New Year period, particularly on State Highway 5 heading to and from Taupo.

“Congestion and delays are inevitable at peak times, so people may like to consider heading off at non-peak times to make their journey safer and more enjoyable.

“Our holiday journeys tool predicts that State Highway 5 will be busiest heading east between 9am through to 3pm most days after Christmas. Heading west, traffic is expected to be busy from 11am to 5pm most days across the holiday period.

“We’re encouraging people to use our holiday journeys tool to help plan their trip, but it is hard to predict exactly what traffic patterns will look like this year with fewer international tourists and more Kiwis on the road so it’s also worth checking our real time updates online before heading off.”

Real time updates(external link)

Mr Postings also urged drivers to play their part to stay safe on the roads these holidays.
“We know that congestion and delays can be frustrating, but the most important thing is that everyone gets to their destination safely. State Highway 5 in particular can be a challenging road to drive, so please plan ahead, be patient and drive to the conditions.

“Trying to ‘make up lost time’ by speeding and unsafe overtaking puts everyone on the road at risk. Even when it isn’t the direct cause, speed is often the difference between someone walking away unharmed or being seriously injured or killed. For everyone’s safety, please slow down.”

Waka Kotahi’s top tips for safe holiday journeys

Plan ahead.  Make sure your vehicle is safe to drive and has a current WoF. 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. Waka Kotahi has crunched the numbers from previous holiday periods to produce a great interactive map which can help you avoid some of the busiest times on our busiest roads.

Don’t drink and drive.  Your judgement and reaction times behind the wheel begin to deteriorate after even one drink. Keep it simple – if you’re going to drink, don’t drive. 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 please, 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.

Check your car – safety basics

Driving in the holidays

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