Road Safety When the Weather Turns Bad

Friday 15 June 2012, 12:20PM
By Tasman District Council


No matter how good a driver you are, winter presents its own set of driving hazards. It’s important that you know how to spot them and react to them. This may mean it takes a few minutes longer to get prepared for a trip, or to get to your destination, but the safety of you, your family and other road users is far more important.

Bad weather is a contributing factor in a number of fatal crashes every year. The good news is that with a bit of knowledge you can greatly reduce your chances of being caught out. There is loads of great information on and here are some tips to get you started:

Stay out of trouble

  • Slow down and take your time – it only takes a split-second to lose control in wet or icy conditions.
  • Avoid sudden movements. Accelerate smoothly and brake gently.
  • When travelling uphill, use a higher gear than normal. When going downhill use a lower gear.


Plan your journey

  • When conditions are bad, postpone your trip if possible.
  • Check road conditions (call 0800 44 44 49 for state highways, visit, or listen to local radio stations).
  • Carry warm clothes in case you get stuck or break down. On a long trip, take food and something to drink. See and be seen.
  • Clear windows before driving. De-ice and wipe windows.
  • In fog, rain or snow, turn your lights on.
  • Switch headlights on earlier in the day.


Watch for danger spots

  • Ice lingers in shaded areas such as high banks, tall trees and road cuttings.
  • Bridges can stay slippery longer than other road surfaces.
  • Expect a dawn frost. If it is not frosty at 6.00 am, it could be an hour later.
  • Slow down in glare from low winter sun.