Roads busy but toll down

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North Otago roads were busier than expected over the Easter weekend, however, police were pleased with the positive approach taken by most drivers.

Extra police patrols were stationed around the district to ensure people made it to and from their holiday destinations safely.

There was a particular focus on speed, driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs, seatbelt use and driver distractions such as mobile phones.

Constable Bruce Dow, who was on highway patrol over Easter, said the volume of traffic on North Otago roads was much higher than expected as thousands took advantage of a few days off before the cold set in.

“Traffic flows this weekend have been like Christmas time.”

Many tickets were issued for speeding and other offences (including six for drivers using cellphones), however, that had been expected and the general attitude of drivers was good, he said.

“I think, given the volumes of traffic, it has been positive.”

The good weather had played a part in reducing the number of potential incidents, with only two minor crashes (in Omarama and Oamaru) being recorded in the area so far, Constable Dow said.

Speeding in North Otago over Easter, as expected, was a problem and many tickets were issued but police there had not had any major driving complaints.

“There’s been the usual amounts of speeding,” he said.

Constable Dow said he had seen two people drive through a clearly marked 50kmh zone in Omarama at about 84kmh yesterday and he had to follow one for 5km with flashing lights and sirens before they noticed him.

He also stopped someone driving at 128kmh near Omarama, who kept crossing the centre line while reading a map.

The person had been driving in the country for four years without a New Zealand licence.

“It’s not appropriate for someone not to have a licence for four years.”

People needed to remember to be patient and considerate during long weekends like Easter because there would always be more people on the roads and there would be boats and caravans that could not be driven at more than 90kmh, Constable Dow said.

The official Easter holiday period began at 4pm on Thursday and ended at 6am this morning.

This year’s Easter holiday road toll stood at one when the Oamaru Mail went to print, following a fatal crash near Lake Pukaki in Canterbury.

Last year’s Easter road toll was five, from a reported 95 injury crashes.

The lowest road Easter holiday road toll recorded in New Zealand was in 2012 when there were no fatalities.

By Ruby Harfield