As temperatures continue to fall with the onset of winter in the Queenstown Lakes District the Council is urging people to move into winter driving mode.
“We live in an alpine setting and that brings with it sub-zero temperatures, changeable conditions and snow and ice on our roads,” QLDC transport manager Denis Mander said.
It was not unusual for the region to experience snow to lake level and icy roads were a daily occurrence, particularly in shady areas. Gritting and the application of a frost fighting chemical, known as CMA, on local roads was already underway with last week’s cold snap.
“Council will also start issuing early morning information regarding road conditions within the next few weeks,” he said. But there were a number of things residents should do to prepare.
“We recommend that everyone with a vehicle in the lakes district has a set of snow chains and knows how to fit them,” he said. Council planned to hold chain fitting demonstrations at Queenstown and Wanaka at the end of the month.
Those less confident about driving on snow should think about making informal alternative plans with friends, work colleagues or neighbours. “If people are not prepared to invest in chains then they need to be prepared to leave their vehicles at home,” Mr Mander said.
Council contractors would be working hard to clear and grit roads during winter. It was very much, business as usual, if and when snow arrived with a focus on keeping roads open and ensuring ski area access was maintained.
“Our goal is to ensure people make safe journeys, no matter what the conditions,” Mr Mander said.
Council had met with contractors, police and schools to revise and reinforce an action plan in the event of heavy snow. School closures and bus notices would all be broadcast on local radio stations.
It was also timely for people to ensure they had spare supplies of food and water at home. “If conditions do keep you at home for a day or two you want to make sure there is some extra food,” he said.
Winter Driving Tips:
Clear ice off windscreens before driving.
Reduce speed and increase following distances.
Carry chains and check you know how they fit.
Roads can freeze at any time of the day and conditions are changeable.
Brake and accelerate gently.
Keep some extra warm clothing in your car.