Cool heads forwinter driving

Icicles hang from rock beside Frankton Rd, near Queenstown, in 2007. The Queenstown Lakes...
Icicles hang from rock beside Frankton Rd, near Queenstown, in 2007. The Queenstown Lakes District Council will post state highway and road conditions on its website and on Twitter every morning to assist motorists. Photo by Chris Morris.
Motorists are being urged to prepare for winter and check road conditions before venturing out.

The Queenstown Lakes District Council announced this week it will post state highway and road conditions on its website and on Twitter each day before 7am.

Transport manager Denis Mander said in a statement the council first tested posting the road reports online last year. Now the system had been expanded further to Twitter.

People could receive the council's tweets direct to their mobile phones via text message.

"We're making it more simple for people to access the available information," Mr Mander said.

"It's also very useful on days when the conditions are changeable, like when it snows and information gets updated often."

Mr Mander said changeable conditions required people to drive with caution every day, not just on days when they knew it was icy.

"Our road reports are a snapshot of conditions over the whole district at one particular moment in time. We've all seen how conditions can change very quickly in our alpine environment.

"People need to think about their own personal safety and that of fellow road users.

"Driving to the conditions and watching your following distances are extra important at this time of year."

Mr Mander said it was important for motorists to carry chains and know how to fit them, a view shared by Senior Sergeant John Fookes, of Queenstown.

"Last year's snow events revealed that there's a lack of awareness around chains and chain fittings across the district," Snr Sgt Fookes said.

"Chains are no good to you if they're left sitting in the garage and by the same token, they won't do what they're supposed to if you can't fit them to your vehicle."

Last year, police saw too many instances of people stopping in the middle of the road to put on their chains, he said.

"This is extremely dangerous. People need to pull over out of the flow of traffic to fit chains safely."

Snr Sgt Fookes said there had been much debate around snow tyres over the past year or so and police now had a policy in place nationally.

"In the most severe weather conditions, where council has placed a driving restriction on a road where chains are required to be fitted, that requirement will be enforced, regardless of what tyres are fitted to the vehicle.

"The police view is that chains might be required for either snow or ice conditions and winter tyres are not as effective in ice as chains."

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