Safety urged on the roads as traffic increases

Drivers are being urged to stay safe on the roads as traffic increases this week. Photo: Daniel Hines/SunLive.

With a significant increase in travel following this week’s move to COVID-19 Alert Level 3, Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency and NZ Police are urging Kiwi drivers to stay safe on the roads.

While traffic volumes remain around 50 per cent lower than at the same time in 2019, Waka Kotahi figures show that traffic on state highways has more than doubled in the major centres with the move from alert level 4 to level 3 this week, increasing the risk of crashes if drivers don’t follow the safety basics.

“With the move to Level 3, more people will need to drive – but no-one needs to speed or drive recklessly," says says Waka Kotahi Senior Road Safety Manager Fabian Marsh.

"If you’re driving please slow down, be mindful of other road users and stay safe,”

While the nine fatalities on New Zealand roads last month is provisionally the lowest on record for any calendar month on record, police are concerned that some drivers are continuing to put others at risk by driving too fast.

“Thirteen Kiwis still lost their lives in road crashes during alert level 4, at a time when we had around 75 percent less traffic on the road," says Acting Superintendent Gini Welch, National Manager Road Policing.

"The fact it’s fewer than other periods is cold comfort to the families who are grieving for their loved ones right now.

“Under alert level 3, we’re already seeing an increase in traffic on the roads, so police will maintain a visible presence to keep people safe."

He says a drive to the supermarket, takeaways, or a pharmacy is still a drive.

"So put on your seatbelt, put away your phone, watch your speed, and absolutely never drive if you are impaired by drug, alcohol, or fatigue.

"Do these simple things and respect the lives of the people on the road around you.

"Everybody is just trying to get to their destination, so let’s help each other get there safely."

Fabian says with many more people walking and cycling, motorists are reminded to take extra care.

“We know that people are maintaining physical distances at the moment when they’re out walking and cycling, and that is what we want to see.

"However, pedestrians and cyclists are also much more vulnerable to injury than drivers in a crash.

If you’re driving a vehicle it’s crucial to stay alert, slow down and give plenty of room when passing people on bikes or on foot.

“With the move to Level 3, you’ll also see more workers out on the roads doing maintenance and other important work to keep us all safe.

"Please be patient, be cautious and comply with all temporary speed limits to keep workers safe.

"Roadworkers are stepping out of their bubbles to do vital work to keep everyone safe on the roads and we should all be grateful to them.

"Please be careful, be kind, and give them a friendly wave."

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