Police urge road safety over long weekend

Whether you’re a visiting British and Irish Lions fan or among the many New Zealanders heading away for a well-deserved break this Queen’s Birthday weekend, Police encourages everyone on the roads to be patient, respectful and drive to the conditions.

Acting National Manager Road Policing, Inspector Gini Welch, says with New Zealand hosting legions of British and Irish Lions fans arriving in the country over the coming days and weeks, and thousands of others taking to the road to make the most of the long weekend, the onus is on everyone to play their part.

“We are delighted to welcome all of our international visitors, including the 20,000 or so fans expected to arrive in New Zealand over the coming days and weeks for the DHL New Zealand Lions series starting on 3 June.

“We want everyone this weekend to be safe and feel safe, including on our roads, and watch out for risks such as fatigue, while allowing plenty of time for your journey, especially as many of our roads may be unfamiliar,” says Inspector Welch.  “Our unique geography and weather can also make for challenging driving conditions, so all on the roads, regardless of where they are from, need to be alert to these hazards and drive accordingly.

“The upper North Island for example is expected to be particularly busy with travellers, including many in campervans heading to the first Lions game in Whangarei on 3 June.

This will be followed by a match in Auckland on 7 June, so road users need to factor the potential for increased traffic congestion and delays into their plans, and allow plenty of time for their journey.

“While we cannot control other people’s behaviour, we are responsible for our own actions on the road.

This means allowing for the fact that we are all human and that others can make mistakes that affect us – just as we need to allow for weather and other road conditions outside of our control.

“We urge all drivers to be patient and courteous, and to expect potential delays due to road works or road closures in some parts of the country.

Having mutual respect for others who want to get to their destination safely just the same as you do will also go a long way towards ensuring our officers don’t have to knock on the doors of loved ones to deliver tragic news this weekend.”

Eleven people died on the roads last Queen’s Birthday Weekend.

The lowest number of deaths was zero in 2013.

The official holiday weekend runs from 4pm tomorrow (Friday) to 6am on Tuesday.

Inspector Welch says drivers need to allow for the fact that some vehicles, including those towing, large trucks and some large campervans are restricted to 90km/hr on the open road, while those driving slower vehicles are encouraged to pull over where it is safe to do so to allow traffic to pass.

“If travelling as a group, Police also encourages you to arrange to meet at different places along the journey.

Don’t travel in close convoy which can create congestion and frustrate other motorists.”

Inspector Welch says Police are well prepared for the series and will also be highly visible and active with random breath-testing, seatbelt checks and enforcement of a reduced 4km/hr speed threshold over the long weekend.

“We all share the same roads and everyone deserves to get home safely no matter who they are.”