Prepare for Christmas chaos on the roads.
Many people will be setting off on holiday about now, so road safety campaigners urge motorists to plan ahead for delays and to take care.
Police are patrolling in force to ensure the 4kmh speed tolerance is followed, and they'll target drink-drive trouble spots too.
The aim is to keep road deaths down, especially after a spate of crashes in Rodney.
"Excess speed is a factor behind too many fatal and serious injury crashes during December and January," NZ Transport Agency Auckland region director Stephen Town says.
More than 68 people have been killed on Northland and Auckland roads during December and January over the past five years, with 574 people seriously injured.
The agency will unveil a new series of roadside billboards along popular tourist routes before Christmas, targeting speed and alcohol.
Police will be concentrating on high risk areas, which include State Highway 1 and SH16.
"We ask drivers to be patient in queues, plan for delays, and be sure to follow any signs advising of alternate routes," Waitemata road policing manager Inspector Mark Fergus says.
Police plan random roadside impairment tests as well.
"There are a number of factors that make this time of year more dangerous," Mr Fergus says. "There is more traffic on the roads, people tend to drive longer distances and on unfamiliar roads, driving conditions can be stressful with children in the vehicle, and drivers may suffer from fatigue as a result of driving at abnormal times and across greater distances."
More are expected to use the Northern Gateway Toll Rd compared to the average of nearly 20,000 trips recorded daily last Christmas. January 2 was the busiest with 23,500 trips.
"The tremendous increase in holiday traffic on the toll road indicates just how busy highways will be, and the need for drivers to plan their trips and to allow plenty of time for a safe journey," Mr Town says.
Manual toll payment kiosks accept only coins and are expected to process up to 1200 transactions daily with queues likely.
People can avoid delays at tollroad.govt.nz or 0800 402 020 to pay for individual trips or open accounts.
Maintenance work on state highways in Northland and Auckland will stop for a Christmas break this week as part of a NZ Transport Agency initiative to help ease congestion. The holiday shutdown started in Northland yesterday, and begins in Auckland tomorrow. Work resumes in both regions from January 6.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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