Prepare well, travel safely

A car in a ditch off Malaghans Rd. Photo by Christina McDonald.
A car in a ditch off Malaghans Rd. Photo by Christina McDonald.
With the winter season upon us and events both on and off the mountains about to begin, the New Zealand Transport Agency is encouraging parents of teenagers to help them prepare for a safe journey.

NZTA chief executive Geoff Dangerfield said teenagers needed more than advice to keep them safe at an event - "guidance for the drive there and back is vital, too".

"For some teens, this will be their first experience of driving long distances in potentially wet and icy conditions - a stressful experience for both the driver and the parent waiting at home."

Mr Dangerfield said the agency had created a website dedicated to helping parents of teen drivers. It offered a set of practical skills and free tools to encourage parents to work alongside their children to help identify and manage risk situations when teens were driving on their own.

"The Safe Teen Driver website not only provides useful festival hazard advice to discuss with your teen, it also suggests some different ways to talk about the risks so they don't think you're overreacting," he said.

NZTA Southern Region Access and Use regional manager Greg Allnutt said there were several tips parents could give teenagers about to hit the roads to enjoy Queenstown Winter Festival action, which begins on Friday.

Mr Allnutt suggested teenagers should plan their trips, check weather forecasts and road conditions before the left and think about where they were going and what route they would take.

"State Highways 6 and 8 to the north and south of Wanaka have several sections of winding, rolling and mountainous terrain.

"Teens will need to take extra care, especially on sections such as the Lindis Pass between Wanaka and Omarama, the Manuka Gorge between Milton and Lawrence and the Kawarau Gorge, between Queenstown and Cromwell.

"The weather in this area during winter can be treacherous, with fog, ice and snow ready to booby-trap these roads, so teens need to take extra care and drive to the conditions.

"Teens will have to drive slower than they normally would; it only takes a spilt second to lose control in wet and icy conditions."

Mr Allnutt said teenagers should also carry snow chains, know how to fit them and be aware of when they needed to put them on.


Other tips from NZTA

• Where possible, parents should thoroughly plan their teen's route with them, so the teen can concentrate on driving and not be distracted by navigating.

• Plan ahead and check for road conditions, delays, hazards or closures on the state highway network.

• Be rested. Even moderate sleep deprivation can be dangerous when driving.

• 40% of crashes involving young drivers happen when it is dark.

• A young driver with two or more passengers in the car is 10 times more likely to have a crash than if driving alone. If those passengers are about the same age as the driver, the risk is more than 15 times higher than if driving alone.


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