Dangers of the New Zealand road

16:00, Feb 13 2012
cattle on road
MOO-VE ALONG: A trail of brown, slick muck all the over the place is a good sign that a herd of cattle is on the move up ahead.

While this country has plenty of great roads to travel, it also has its share of hazards to be wary of.

The twisting, winding nature of most roads is one. While some people enjoy a few bends, these curves require a degree of caution.

Some of the suggested cornering speeds can seem conservative, but the ones below 45km/h should always be heeded.

Road-side warning signs are usually how we deal with treacherous sections of roads in this country, so if you come across one of those big Reduce Speed Now signs, best to do so - this is usually where people come unstuck.

Learning to read the ever-changing road surfaces will help keep you on the highway longer.

Nicely laid hot mix is a rarity in New Zealand, where we tend to use low-grip coarse chip.


On old back roads, this can become worn, almost polished smooth and seriously slippery, particularly in the wet.

In winter, some bends don't see much of the sun, meaning corners can still be slick despite a lack of rain.

In colder climes, black ice is a real danger in these sorts of bends.

Trickier to identify is the off camber corner, one where the road seems to fall away to the outside of the bend.

Your car will want to follow this contour, and head off toward the Armco barrier/fence/edge of the cliff if these are taken without caution.

A nicely banked corner, where the road is higher on the outside of the curve, will help keep the car in the bend by forcing it back towards the inside.

Also keep an eye out for bumps and dips as these upset the balance of the car, meaning it won't respond as well to your steering or braking inputs, while potholes etc can damage wheels, tyres and suspension.

Don't forget the first rule in the road code - keep left, as it ensures you can't stray on to the other side of the road.

And remember those speed limits too, particularly in towns and past school buses that have stopped to pick up or drop off kids (the limit in the latter situation is 20km/h).

Of course you need to be aware of other road users, particularly those on push bikes and from the farming sector.

There are the slow-moving tractors and quad bikes, and also cattle on the road.

A trail of brown, slick muck all the over the place is a good sign that a herd is on the move up ahead.

And here's a tip - wash your car as soon as you can after coming across a herd, as its not only blankets that this stuff will stick to.

Tomorrow we discuss bad driving habits to avoid while out and about. In the meantime, what's your best tip for coping with hazards on New Zealand roads?