Drivers have revelled in the chance to stop and refresh with free coffee and a bite to eat on their home stretch after the long weekend.
Holidaymakers and locals alike took advantage of the eighth annual "Driver Reviver" effort set up by State Insurance at Ohakea yesterday.
The campaign is held every year during Labour and Easter long weekends to encourage fatigued drivers to take a break.
State Driver Reviver spokeswoman Terri van Schooten said between 40 and 50 volunteers from State Insurance gave up their public holiday to help out, doling out about 5000 coffees and the same number of sausages to drivers travelling at peak time on five key routes around New Zealand.
Gareth and Angela Evans had stopped off at the Ohakea marquee with their three children for coffee and a bite to eat - on their way from Bulls to Palmerston North.
They didn't have far to travel, but were pleased to discover the concept.
‘We thought it looked like a brilliant idea," Mr Evans said.
Wellington resident Rachel Sharp and step-granddaughter Nevaeh Love, 5, had travelled from a little further afield and were pleased at the chance for a rest as they returned from a weekend of snowboarding in Ohakune.
"It's fantastic, she had just woken up from a sleep. With kids it just gives you something to ensure you keep them entertained," Ms Sharp said.
Driver fatigue was a major factor in car crashes, Transport Ministry figures for 2011 show.
Last year, 32 people died in crashes where fatigue was identified as a factor, while 141 suffered serious injuries and 619 suffered minor injuries. The total social cost of crashes involving fatigue in 2011 was an estimated $253 million.
Senior Sergeant Kris Burberry, of Central district Highway Patrol, said police welcomed the use of the Ohakea weigh station to promote the driver fatigue message.
"I think it's great that they put this on. They're certainly more than happy to use our facilities to get through that driver fatigue message to stop and refresh and recharge across. It complements what we're doing," Mr Burberry said.
"People probably get away on Saturday or Friday and the majority of people return home on Monday to go back to work and school, so we expect an effect on road buildup."
Drivers who had stopped for a coffee on their road trip were demonstrating responsible road practice, Mr Burberry said.
However, police were not impressed by the many travellers not wearing seatbelts on the state highway yesterday.
The holiday weekend ended more safely than it started, with the national road toll unchanged at seven when the official holiday period ended at 6am today.
Six of the deaths were on Saturday, while the first happened on Friday after the 4pm start to the weekend.
Yesterday afternoon, newly-appointed national manager of road policing Superintendent Carey Griffiths challenged road users to ensure no more lives were lost.
"Seven is far too many," he said.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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