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Driving safely in New Zealand

Driving safely in New Zealand

While most car rides are completed without incident, there are still too many accidents on New Zealand roads. Even if you obey the road rules, strap on your seat belt and never drink and drive, there is still more you can do to prevent a crash. The New Zealand Automobile Association has identified these simple tips to help you reach your destination safely.

Minimise distractions

You may think you're a great multi-tasker, but the truth is that every driver's ability is impaired if they've got some other task competing for their attention. Avoid the following distractions when you're behind the wheel:

  • Using your phone (this is also against the law)
  • Using an iPod or other device
  • Putting on make-up
  • Reaching for items 
  • Eating or drinking

If you are driving and really need to complete another task, pull over to the side of the road to do so instead of trying to drive at the same time. 

Save fuel

Motorists who drive in a way that is more fuel efficient tend to have fewer accidents. That means accellerating and breaking in a smooth, controlled way. Not only will you lower your chance of having an accident, you'll save money at the same time.

To drive efficiently:

  • Look ahead and anticipate your actions in advance. This can help reduce rapid braking or accelerating
  • Keep to the ‘two-second rule’: Remain at least two seconds behind the car in front of you. This way, you have time to decrease your speed gradually when you need to rather than stopping abruptly.
  • If you drive a manual car, change up gears before the revs climb to reduce fuel consumption
  • Keep your tyres inflated correctly by checking the pressure regularly
  • Keep windows up to reduce resistance
  • Remove unnecessary items from your vehicle – a lighter car is more fuel efficient

Buy a safe car

Check out the car's safety rating before you part with your deposit. You want to buy the safest car you can within your budget.

The safety rating as calculated based on data from many accidents on New Zealand and Australian roads. The highest rating under the ANCAP system is five stars.

Always look for the following safety features when buying a used car:

  • Airbags
  • Electronic stability control
  • ABS braking
  • Side impact and crumple zones

Safety in newer vehicles

Newer vehicles are generally (but not always!) safer. They benefit from technological advancements and crash testing, and often have the latest safety features to protect occupants.

Don’t drive when tried

Research indicates the drunk driving and driving while tired result in a similar increased accident risk.

If you feel tired while driving, pull over to a safe place and take a 15-20 minute power nap. Don’t sleep longer than this, as your body will reach a deep sleep cycle and you will become more – rather than less – tired.

  • Don’t try to cover too much distance in one sitting
  • Don’t drive to soon after a big meal or after taking medication that might make you drowsy
  • Share the driving if possible

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