Whakapapa and Turoa skifields are due to open this weekend and people keen to hit the snow are being urged not to ignore the signs of fatigue while driving.
The wintery blast which led to big dumps of snow on the mountain has also made driving more hazardous, with the potential for black ice to make roads slippery.
“We know many people are keen to be among the first to hit the slopes at this Saturday’s opening day on Mount Ruapehu and there’ll be plenty of motorists travelling through the Waikato to the skifields over the weekend,” said Waikato Regional Council’s road safety coordinator, Monique Haines.
“In winter you use different driving skills than during the summer months. It’s important to increase your following distances, pull away and accelerate gently, and take your time.
“Please don’t ignore the signs of fatigue. In the Waikato region, fatigue is a known factor in about 12 per cent of fatal and serious injury crashes, but is suspected in many more,” Mrs Haines said.
“Always try to get a good night’s sleep before driving on any long distance journey, because if you’re already tired before you get behind the wheel of the car you can lose concentration and crash.
“Take a break every two hours or stop for a power nap before continuing your journey. If it’s an option, share the driving. These simple actions could save lives,” she said.
As part of this year’s ‘reduce the risk’ winter campaign, billboards have been erected across the Waikato to remind motorists to take a break and to turn headlights on whether it’s day or night.
“Driving with your headlights on is critically important for all road users, because as well as helping you to see the way ahead, being visible to other motorists reduces your risk of a head-on crash,” Mrs Haines said.
The ‘reduce the risk’ campaign is an initiative of the Waikato Regional Road Safety Education Group, led by Waikato Regional Council working in conjunction with other regional safety stakeholders including the NZTA, NZ Police, ACC and councils.
For more information about the group’s work visit www.reducetherisk.co.nz