Driving to the Conditions

Winter is set to make its presence felt over the next few weeks and drivers are encouraged to take extra care as road conditions can change rapidly.

Black ice on the road is one of the most dangerous road surfaces drivers can come across and they won’t know until they hit it says Mike Power, Operations Manager, SICON. Oxford in the snow

Mike says his team are out early in the mornings inspecting the road checking whether ice is present.  “There are known roads in the district that are more prone to black ice forming because of shaded areas and these will normally be inspected first and gritted if needed.,” says Mike.

“We unfortunately can’t be everywhere at the same time so drivers do need to take care when driving on icy mornings.” 

Mike reminds drivers that grit only improves friction by about 15% so you only have around 40% of dry road skid resistance.  “Drivers should where possible drive on the grit, not in the wheel tracks, to maximise the effect”.

Council Road Safety Co-ordinator Kathy Graham says drivers do need to consider whether they have to drive at that particular time.  “We would encourage drivers who regularly travel early in the morning to have a conversation with your employer to negotiate later starts if weather conditions mean the road conditions may be bad. We appreciate that’s not possible for everyone, but if you’re able to have that discussion it can take the pressure off if you’re not comfortable to drive in dark and icy conditions.”

Driving to the conditions can mean recognising your own driving ability too, Kathy says and what conditions you are comfortable driving in. In addition, understanding how the weather might affect the roads in your local area and knowing how your vehicle might handle in different conditions are all steps to staying safe on the roads.

Some key tips for driving to the conditions include:

  • Checking your vehicle is winter-ready – tyres are in good condition and at correct pressure, windscreen wipers are clean and work well, windscreens, windows and mirrors are clear of ice and moisture;
  • Adjusting your speed appropriately;
  • Allow extra time for your journey;
  • Leaving more space between you and other vehicles;
  • Making sure you have your headlights on in fog and low light;
  • Avoiding braking or accelerating suddenly;
  • Pay attention to signage with warnings of ice and grit;
  • Familiarising yourself with what technology your  vehicle does or doesn’t have such as Antilock Braking System (ABS) and knowing the correct way to operate your vehicle in all conditions.

Keeping up to date with road conditions before you leave home or work is also key to ensuring you are prepared for your journey says Kathy. 

Whether you’re on your daily commute or heading away for the weekend it takes a few minutes to check the various information sources for road and weather conditions

 To check main highway conditions - NZTA Traffic and Travel Information  

For more information on driving in winter - NZTA Traffic and Travel Information Winter Journeys

Contact: Kathy Graham

Phone: 0800 965 468