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Severe weather forecast prompts driving warning

To prepare for driving in bad weather the AA recommends doing a basic vehicle maintenance check before you leave. File photo.

With heavy rain and strong winds predicted for much of the country, as well as an icy blast in the South Island, the AA is reminding Kiwis to be patient and vigilant – and prepare for unexpected hazards.

“We’ve already had polar blasts, severe flooding and multiple road closures this winter, which has shown how important it is to check the weather before you head out and check for road closures,” says AA Driving School General Manager Roger Venn.

“Now MetService is predicting heavy rain or strong winds for much of the country from today through Friday, and South Islanders are in for an icy blast.

“Beware of black ice in areas where the temperature is low and the road surface looks wet – it’s especially important then to be careful and allow plenty of space between you and the car in front.

Take your foot off the accelerator and avoid slamming on the brakes - although this might be a natural response, it will only upset the vehicle balance and make it harder to regain control. Use the gears to slow down if necessary, but avoid any sudden movements that could destabilise the car.”

If it’s really wet, visibility will be poor, so only drive if you need to, Roger says.

“If you are going to be on the roads, allow plenty of time to get to your destination.

“In poor conditions, increase your braking and following distances, use your headlights on dip, and use air con to remove misting quickly and easily.”

The AA is also reminding drivers to keep their hands and eyes off their mobile phones.

“$150 and 20 demerit points is the new penalty for using a phone while driving. If you struggle with temptation behind the wheel, simply switch your phone to ‘Do not disturb’ mode so notifications don't come through,” says Roger.

To prepare for driving in bad weather the AA recommends doing a basic vehicle maintenance check before you leave, including checking:

  •   •  Tyre condition and pressure

  •   •  Lights are working and clean

  •   •  Windscreen is clean (to stop glare and misting), and wipers are in good working order

  •   •  Washer bottle is topped up with water and detergent

  •   •  You have enough fuel to get to your destination

  •   •  You have water, warm clothing, blankets, a torch and a first aid kit in the vehicle

Battery care is also key at this time of year, with the AA attending an increasing number of battery-related breakdowns during the winter months. AA Battery Service advises:

  •   •  If you’re not using your car frequently, give it time to warm up before you turn on your heater, radio, wipers, lights etc.

  •   •  Park your car in a garage or under cover if possible. Avoid parking on the lawn as condensation can collect on the engine and ignition parts which can cause current leakage.

  •   •  Clean the top of the battery and the terminals with a cloth every so often to prevent dirt build-up, as a bad connection can sap the battery’s power.

  •   •  If your car’s not used often, start your engine for 30 minutes at least once a week. If you have a Smart Charger, use it to maintain a healthy charge in your battery.

A journey planner is available via https://www.journeys.nzta.govt.nz/

AA Members can call AA Roadservice for breakdown assistance on 0800 500 222 or *222

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