Drivers urged to prepare for winter conditions
With summer becoming just a memory, Waikato Police are urging motorists to ensure their vehicles are roadworthy before the onset of winter changes driving conditions.
District road policing manager Inspector Leo Tooman said so far 13 people had lost their lives on Waikato roads compared with 12 for the same period last year.
‘‘If you look at the table you will see that over the past four years March, April and May have been particularly bad on our roads as we make the transition into the cooler, darker and wetter months.
‘‘The deaths are all the more tragic in that they didn’t need to happen, no matter what the unique circumstances of each crash, each had an element of avoidability such as excessive speed, alcohol, the not wearing of seatbelts, driving on side of the road etc.’’
Mr Tooman said drivers should be preparing themselves for the change in season and be looking at getting their vehicles fit for the road, getting warrants of fitness and fixing niggling faults.
‘‘An example of this is making sure you have the right tyres; over recent years our staff have attended a number of crashes where drivers have lost control of their vehicles because they have been fitted with snow tyres.
‘‘While these may be ideal in the northern hemisphere winters they actually negatively impact on a driver’s ability to maintain control in the wet of New Zealand conditions. You need to look at getting the right fit and what may save you a few dollars in the short term may end up costing you more in the long run.’’
Other issues identified include the need for drivers to keep left, be conscious of the effects of fatigue and the need to allow for longer stopping distances in the wet as the rainy season begins. ‘‘ Two days before New Year’s Eve we had heavy rain on a Tuesday which saw Waikato Police called to 37 crashes over a 12-hour period. Imagine the risks posed by several days of rain as can be expected with the change in climate.’’
Mr Tooman said one of the most effective safety steps motorist could adopt was turning their headlights on day and night. ‘‘With daylight saving coming to an end more people are going to be travelling in periods of low light so let’s switch on to the risks.’’