Easter weekend: Plan ahead to avoid the jams
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If you're heading away this long weekend, whatever you do, avoid State Highway 1 northbound after work today, SH2 near Tauranga early Friday afternoon and SH1 coming back into Auckland on Monday from midday.
And agencies are urging motorists to drive safely to achieve the first fatality-free Easter in three years.
The New Zealand Transport Agency has released maps of the peak holiday traffic choke points and times to help people decide the best time to travel to avoid the queues.
The agency says it is expecting large numbers of people to make the most of the continued warm weather and the mostly sunny forecast and head out of the main centres. More than 20,000 extra vehicles are expected on state highways around the Bay of Plenty and Waikato and traffic is predicted to triple on one key route to the Coromandel. Auckland and Northern highway manager Brett Gliddon said those factors would make queues and delays inevitable.
"If everyone plans their travel in advance, and thinks about the best time to travel to avoid delays, it will ease stress and reduce the need to hurry, making for a safer and more enjoyable journey."
Mr Gliddon said the "traffic hot spot" information should be used alongside real-time congestion data - the agency will have teams working throughout the four-day weekend to monitor traffic flows and incidents on the national highways.
And while most roadworks across Auckland and Northland will be on hold over the weekend, Mr Gliddon said motorists needed to be aware that speed restrictions, closed road shoulders and reduced lanes would still be in place at some construction projects.
Meanwhile, police are asking all Kiwis to be safe this weekend, whether on the roads, heading into the outdoors or socialising at home.
Acting Assistant Commissioner of road policing and prevention Dave Trappitt asked drivers to buckle up, stay sober and watch their speed.
"The last thing any of the services want is having to attend a serious or fatal crash that could have been prevented."
St John director of clinical operations, Norma Lane, said it hoped making motorists more aware of the serious consequences of driving under the influence, not wearing seatbelts, or being distracted momentarily, would help to reduce the risk of road crashes.
The only fatality-free Easter recorded was in 2012. Last year, there was one fatal crash and 101 reported injury crashes.
Associate Transport Minister Craig Foss said buckling up was second nature for most but "a disappointingly large number are still not getting the message about a simple action that can, quite literally, be life-saving."
The official Easter Holiday period begins at 4pm today and ends at 6am on Tuesday.