ON AIR: Mike Hosking Breakfast

6AM - 9AM

Motorists warned to prepare for heavy traffic as holidaymakers head home

Ben Leahy,
Publish Date
Sunday, 6 January 2019, 10:50AM
Traffic could become bumper-to-bumper today as thousands make their way home after their summer break. (Photo / File)
Traffic could become bumper-to-bumper today as thousands make their way home after their summer break. (Photo / File)

If you are about to jump in the car head home from your summer break be warned - you're about to run into the heaviest time of the day as thousands of other Kiwis also hit the highways.

Most people are expected back at work tomorrow, meaning State Highway 1 into Auckland from both the north and south is likely to become busy by 11am and heavily congested between midday and 4pm, according to the NZ Transport Agency.

Those coming from the far north will hit the traffic earlier than most as the southbound traffic around Whangarei is tipped to get busy from the early morning and heavily congested around 10am.

If you are leaving the Coromandel or Bay of Plenty you can also expect congested roads along SH25 from 10am.

Elsewhere, SH1 southbound into Wellington is expected to become heavily congested from 10am, while holidaymakers driving south into Christchurch on SH1 can also expect busy roads from 11am.

With motorists facing long hours in the car, police are reminding everyone to take care and treat others with respect.

"We want to remind everybody on the roads today to be patient and make a concerted effort to keep each other safe," a police spokeswoman said.

"Imagine the person in the car in front of you or coming round the corner contains your family or whanau."

The busy day on the roads comes after nine people were killed in crashes roads during the Christmas and New Year period. While the total was the lowest number of fatalities for the festive season since 2013 it's still far too many.

All of the holiday crashes will be referred to the Coroner once police have finished investigating the circumstances.

Last year's total road toll of 380 made for the deadliest on New Zealand's roads since 2009 when 379 people were killed.

Police reminded motorists to stay focused during their long trips home today and not become complacent.

"If you're tired, distracted, or feeling frustrated pull over and take a break," the spokeswoman said.

"If your passengers fall asleep, it is a good sign you need a rest too."

"Remember, decisions you make as a driver impact not only on you, but on everybody else on the road. You have a responsibility to yourself, your passengers, and other road users to drive safely."

NZTA system manager Karen Boyt asked motorists to consider leaving at times when traffic was lighter, or to look for alternative routes.

"We ask motorists to drive to the conditions, allow plenty of time and take regular breaks to stay alert," she said.

"Always check your car is in good 'health' before you head off. Check your tyre pressure and tread, windscreen wipers, indicators and lights."

This year's holiday road toll follows on from a horrific 2017/18 holiday period in which there were 11 fatal crashes that resulted in 12 deaths.

The deaths included eight drivers, three passengers and a motorcyclist.

According to the Ministry of Transport, the year with the highest number of deaths recorded was 1972/73, when 37 people lost their lives in crashes.

The lowest holiday road toll on record was in 2012/13, with six deaths.


ON AIR: Mike Hosking Breakfast

6AM - 9AM