Stay safe on the roads these holidays
West Coast Road Safety Coordinator - Ivan Wilson
Christmas is nearly here and that means most of us are starting to plan our summer getaway. There is plenty to get ready before you leave and lots more to look forward to. But the most important thing is making sure you get to your holiday destination safely.
Before you head away for your holidays this summer, take a moment to think about the biggest safety issues on New Zealand roads and some tips for making sure you avoid the risk.
How do you know when you’re tired? Fatigue is an insidious state that sneaks up on you and suddenly you can be asleep at the wheel. What happens next is completely out of your control. To help avoid that happening to you this summer you might like to consider these signs and solutions to Fatigue.
Not keeping a good line or even speed, getting impatient with other drivers or your passengers, not knowing if you’ve passed a well-known landmark or town. When you start yawning it’s getting late in the picture. Next and last comes the mini-sleep where you zonk out completely for 2 seconds or so then wake with a start. Your eyes might never open again – bit unsettling, eh?
Drive when you’d normally be awake, don’t try to go too far all at once, share driving, keep hydrated (water or natural juice, not caffeine) and stop every two hours to get out, stretch legs and eat something that will give sustained energy – try fruit or a muesli bar rather than a chocolate or sugary bar.
Alcohol and drugs
Everyone knows the risks and most people know better than to drive while impaired. But there is still a small percentage who get drunk or take drugs then attempt to get behind the wheel. Remember if you’re under 20 there is a zero alcohol tolerance. The big thing is to plan before you party and keep the alternatives to driving in mind – share a cab, use the courtesy van, get a lifesaver driver or stay the night. That could add to your enjoyment. Drinking? Legends don’t drive.
Some of us are a fairly impatient lot and the pressure of work this time of year could make you want to put the hammer down. Try extending a little patience, especially toward our visitor drivers; rather than throwing caution to the winds and roaring dangerously past, it would be helpful to you and the rest of us to take a little more time. Calling *555 on your phone will help things and make you feel better as well – but make sure you’re hands-free or pull over before you dial. Try to be mindful of the outcomes of speeding – fines, de-merits and, ultimately, higher impacts if you crash. You are more likely to kill or maim someone at a higher speed because adding together the time to notice a hazard, your reaction time and the weight of your vehicle means a lot less time to slow down for the impact. The faster you go – the bigger the mess.
We’ve had seatbelts and restraints for a half century so many of us are automatically making it click - keep up the good work folks because seatbelts save lives. To reinforce the idea we take a “seatbelt sled” to schools and public events so people can experience the value of seatbelts in a low speed impact. This summer be certain to fasten up even if you are just going around the corner to the shops or the beach.
At Tai Poutini Polytechnic, we offer some helpful driver education. If you want a hand getting through the Graduated Licensing System we’ll be doing more Street Talk defensive driving courses soon. These also give you six months off your restricted licence and prepare you for the FLT.
Good luck and we hope you have safe and successful motoring these summer holidays – and always.