Easter Traffic: NZ Transport advises drivers to plan now for a spot in holiday traffic

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MIL OSI – Source: New Zealand Transport Agency – Start planning now to book your spot in Easter traffic

Mark Owen, NZ Transport Agency Regional Performance Manager, is reminding motorists that heavy traffic is expected during peak travel times over the Easter break, and with a bit of forward planning you can avoid the worst of the traffic and have a safer, smoother and less stressful journey.

“Well planned journeys tend to be safe and stress-free journeys.

“The best way to travel is to start your journey online. Our online real time highway information service will tell you whether there are any travel warnings or closures ahead. You can also check out the cameras to see how traffic is moving in and out of the city. This means you can choose the best route and time of day to make your journey safely and without rushing.”

Mr Owen says there are plenty of ways for the public to keep up to date with traffic conditions so they can make informed travel choices and reduce the chance of experiencing delays during high traffic flows on the highway. People can check the Transport Agency’s website for travel information before heading out, they can call 0800 4 HIGHWAYS, and can also subscribe for email updates at www.onthemove.govt.nz. People can also follow @nztawgtn for local twitter updates.

Don’t miss out – how to get in on the rush

If you’re travelling on the Coast Road (SH1) north of Kapiti this Easter, then the busiest times to travel will be 1pm – 7pm on Thursday and between 9am – 4pm on Good Friday. The key hotspots on SH1 on Thursday will be the merge at Pukerua Bay and between Raumati and Waikanae on both Thursday and Good Friday.

Coming back into Wellington on Easter Monday, the section of SH1 north of Otaki is likely to see traffic queues between 1pm – 5pm.

If you’re travelling from Wellington to the Wairarapa this Easter then the busiest time to travel is likely to be between 10am and 12noon on Good Friday. To avoid the traffic, pack your car the night before and leave home early or have lunch at home, then head over the hill in the afternoon. Time your return journey to Wellington earlier in the day on Easter Monday to avoid the busy afternoon period.

Getting everyone through the turnstiles

While the Transport Agency loves to see hordes of holidaymakers exploring the country, it’s only fair that we undertake crowd management to keep everyone moving – also known as traffic management.

During peak travel times the Transport Agency will be closing the SH1 northbound passing lanes, north of Te Horo as well as the southbound passing lane north of Otaki.

The closure of the northbound passing lanes will take effect from about 10am – 8pm on both Thursday and Good Friday. They will be monitored and lanes reopened when traffic eases.

On Easter Monday, the Transport Agency will close the SH1 southbound passing lane, north of Otaki from 10am and will reopen at 8pm, depending on traffic volumes. If traffic remains heavy, passing lanes will remain closed longer until we are satisfied traffic flows have reduced.

Mr Owen says the closure of the passing lanes, which is supported by Police, is done to improve safety and traffic flows during the holiday peaks.

“Everyone likes passing lanes but nobody likes queue jumpers. When traffic is building up, unfortunately you can’t have one without the other. By closing the passing lanes when the highway is chocka, traffic flow improves and the risk of nose to tail crashes goes down.

“Closing passing lanes during holiday peaks actually means more vehicles get through and it’s safer for everyone.”

Temporary traffic management measures will be in place within the Otaki township, to improve traffic flow, including local traffic diversions to minimise the delays created by merging of traffic at the roundabout. This includes closing Mill Road and banning traffic from turning out of Mill Road onto the highway or Rahui Road. Traffic will be allowed to turn onto Mill Road from SH1 or Rahui Road.

Staying safe – avoid getting trampled in the rush

Mr Owen says that it’s important to remember that we all play a part in making our roads safer for everyone using them and urges motorists to share the driving if possible, avoid alcohol before driving, get plenty of rest before a big trip and stop for regular breaks. When returning to Wellington, Levin is a good spot to stop for a rest before joining the heavy traffic north of Otaki.

“We all make mistakes sometimes, but mistakes on the road can have serious or even deadly consequences. Staying alert, keeping your speeds down, being courteous and driving to the conditions are all key elements of a safe journey for you and your passengers this Easter.”

Plan ahead.  Get your vehicle checked before you head out, plan to avoid peak traffic where you can and give yourself enough time to take plenty of rest or sightseeing breaks along the way.  It’s your holiday after all, so why not make the journey an enjoyable part of it?

Drive to the conditions.  This isn’t just about weather conditions — it’s about the road you’re on, the traffic, your vehicle and load, your speed, and even you as a driver (for example being tired or on medication that might affect your driving).

Watch out for fatigue.  Long trips are tiring and fatigue can be deadly behind the wheel.  Driver fatigue was a factor in 33 road deaths and 109 serious injuries in 2013. Get a good night’s sleep beforehand, and plan in advance where you’ll take breaks along the way.

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 while 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 enough clear road ahead of you to do it safely.  Be sure to take enough games, books and DVDs 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.

The Transport Agency wishes everyone a safe and enjoyable Easter holiday.

The NZ Transport Agency works to create transport solutions for all New Zealanders – from helping new drivers earn their licences, to leading safety campaigns to investing in public transport, state highways and local roads.

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Selwyn Manning, BCS (Hons.) MCS (Hons.) is an investigative political journalist with 23 years media experience. He specializes in reportage and analysis of socioeconomics, politics, foreign affairs, and security/intelligence issues.
Selwyn has extensive experience as a commentator and has provided live political analysis to a wide range of television and radio organizations broadcasting in New Zealand, Australia and globally including the BBC (Five Live, London) and BBC (World Service). He is currently a correspondent to Australia’s FiveAA radio, and is a regular live-on-air panelist on Radio New Zealand’s The Panel with broadcaster Jim Mora.

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