Police stopped traffic yesterday morning in a bid to spread Christmas cheer whilst emphasising the importance of safe driving.
The 30-minute operation was organised as a chance for the police to get out in the community at Christmas and encourage safety on our roads.
Four police cars were on Thames Highway outside Waitaki Transport at 10am, along with several officers and members of the Waitaki District Youth Council (WDYC).
Police ushered cars through to checkpoints where members of WDYC handed out Christmas treats and safety messages.
Oamaru Police Highway Patrol Sergeant Peter Muldrew said people who had interaction with police at this time of year had usually done something wrong, so it was nice to get out in the community and have a positive interaction.
Oamaru Police Highway Patrol Constable Howard Jackson said the operation focused on safe driving practices at an important time of the year.
They were trying to get people on the ball in the run-up to Christmas as a lot of people would panic on the road, he said.
It was really important for people to give themselves that little bit of extra time as it was going to take longer on the roads at this time of year, Constable Jackson said.
Event organiser Anton Roswell said it was good to have the police involved with the community while reminding people to slow down.
The surprise element was quite fun too – people would think they were being pulled over because they had done something wrong and then they would get given a Christmas treat, he said.
Several members of the Waitaki District Youth Council (WDYC) helped to hand out the treats which included Rainbow Chocolate Santas, McKeown Petroleum vouchers, McDonald’s vouchers and Deja Moo vouchers.
WDYC secretary Helen Strachan said it was nice for the young people to get involved with the community.
WDYC helps young people learn about how local politics work.
There are 17 youth involved in WDYC between the ages of 15 and 24 from local schools and businesses.
Southern Police are also undertaking Operation Safe Summer, which aims to encourage motorists to drive safely over the holiday break.
The operation will be in force during the official holiday period – from 12am on Monday, December 23 to 12am on Friday, January 3 – and will run until January 31.
There will be increased police presence on the roads and police will be stopping any driver they detect travelling 4km over the speed limit.
Southern District acting road policing manager Senior Sergeant Steve Larking said with increased traffic on the roads, it was important to pay attention while driving.
“Over the holiday period, we all need to take that extra care and drive like our lives depend on it – because they do.”
People needed to be courteous and considerate on the roads, arrange an alternative driver if drinking alcohol and always wear safety belts, he said.
“Plan, allow plenty of time to get to your destination, take regular breaks if you are feeling tired, share the driving and try to be rested before you leave home.”
SAFE DRIVING TIPS:
• Plan, prepare and pack ahead of time.
• Make sure vehicle is in a roadworthy condition and check the spare tyre and car tools are there.
• Make sure torch batteries are bright and first aid kit is complete.
• Do not rush – speeding and fatigue cause accidents.
• Allow plenty of time and take lots of breaks.
• Be a courteous and calm driver.
• Use indicators and maintain a safe following distance.
• Keep left unless passing and pull over to allow others to pass.
• If passing a slower vehicle, wait for a passing lane or until you can see a clear road ahead and have enough space to overtake.
• Always wear a safety belt and use approved child safety seats for children.
• Do not allow distractions such as eating, drinking or passenger conversations to interfere with driving.
• Make sure everything in vehicle is securely packed as even small objects could be dangerous in a crash or sudden stop.
Source: NZ Police
By RUBY HARFIELD
CHRISTMAS CHEER: Oamaru Police Highway Patrol Sergeant Peter Muldrew with event organiser Anton Roswell helping to spread Christmas cheer among motorists.