Chain-fitting workshops well-attended

The Queenstown Lakes District Council organised chain-fitting lessons for the public last month,...
The Queenstown Lakes District Council organised chain-fitting lessons for the public last month, and Queenstown girls Felicity Toumi and Rebecca Lee took up the opportunity to get familiar with the winter-driving necessity. Photo by Olivia Caldwell.
Winter driving in Queenstown has caught out even the most local of locals in its snowy, sleety and icy conditions.

Nearly 200 took part in a series of chain-fitting workshops in Queenstown and Wanaka recently.

The workshops were initiated by the Queenstown Lakes District Council and the council's road contractor Downer, in conjunction with the New Zealand Police and NZSki.

QLDC transport manager Denis Mander said the workshops had proved to be a worthwhile exercise, with 110 people taking part in Queenstown and 80 in Wanaka.

"Last year showed us that there were a number of issues around the use of chains in snowy weather, and we felt it would be good to offer people the chance to learn how to fit them properly and safely."


• Other winter road-safety tips, via the QLDC website: It is much safer to take the bus. It takes the worry out of winter driving.

• Let common sense prevail.

• The laying of grit and CMA (a chemical that is sprayed on roads to reduce the ice) present their own challenges.

• Drive with reduced speeds and more care over roads that have been gritted.

• Overconfidence will get you in trouble. It's a myth that four-wheel-drive vehicles are safer than other vehicles in snow and ice, especially downhill. Many accidents in icy conditions involve four-wheel-drive vehicles.

• Active safety technologies such as ABS brakes and stability control are great. But they're not foolproof. ABS allows you to steer a vehicle under heavy braking. It doesn't necessarily shorten your braking distances. No technology can replace safe driving.

• Always free your entire windscreen of ice and snow.

You can receive an instant fine if you don't.

• If your car is prone to breaking down, don't take it out in bad weather.

• Check the weather forecast before you leave.

• Accelerate smoothly and brake gently.

• Plan extra travel time and slow down.

• Shaded areas may be icy all day.

• Ice or a thaw freeze can occur at any time of the day.

• Bridges require extra care.

• Double your following distance.

• Never overtake a grit truck when it is applying grit.

• The Crown Range is an alpine pass and chains must be carried.



Downer's top 10 tips


The men at Downer gave us their top 10 tips and said people living in the area should familiarise themselves with them before driving this winter.

• Check the tyre and chain size are a good match.

• Read instructions on your particular chain kit.

• Always carry your chains, you never know when a heavy snowfall will hit town.

• Don't assume someone else will help you, learn how to fit them yourself.

• When fitting chains, park in a safe and appropriate place.

• Put the chains on before you hit the problem.

• After initial installation, pull over and check if chains are still fitting well on the tyre. They can come loose when driving.

• Be sensible where you wear the chains. Don't be wearing them three days after the fact.

• Be mindful it is your own responsibility to know how and when to use your chains.

• Check council and police warnings on when chains must be worn. If you don't follow the signs and you get caught, you will be fined $200.



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