Winter in New Zealand is abuzz with activity and it’s no surprise that it’s a busy time of year on the roads. Winter driving can bring testing conditions for all drivers. To help raise awareness and to complement the launch of the Love Winter campaign, the Hertz Corporation has put together some useful tips to help drivers stay safe on New Zealand roads this winter.

Mark Righton, County Manager for Hertz New Zealand said: “Winter is an outstanding time to visit New Zealand and hiring a vehicle can be an affordable and convenient transport solution when travelling to and getting around the world-class ski-resorts we have to offer.

“Families, locals and sporting enthusiasts heading to the slopes this winter must be particularly careful when setting off on any journey. Driving in the snow can be a challenging and potentially dangerous activity and drivers must be fully prepared for all scenarios. Road safety is one of our key priorities, this is why we offer winter accessories with our rentals, such as snow chains. We decided to share some helpful safe driving advice to anyone who plans to get behind the wheel for business or pleasure over the next month.”

When travelling in a foreign country or region, it is often unknown what conditions or terrain will impact a journey. Therefore it is always important for drivers to be prepared for the worst, especially when driving in snowy, slushy, or icy conditions and the following tips may come in handy:

  • Know where you’re going before you set out in your car. Things can look very different under a layer of thick snow, and signs may be obscured. If you have a sat nav/ GPS, then program it before you set off to find the best route.
  • Listen to weather and traffic forecasts and check for road closures. If bad weather is predicted, listen for guidance from weather forecasters and traffic agencies. It may be advisable to delay your trip; even just a few hours can make a difference.
  • Before you start out warm the car and ensure that all lights, windows and mirrors are clean and free of snow and ice. Don’t use hot water on glass – the sudden change can crack the glass; an ice-scraper is inexpensive and effective. On the inside, use the air-con to remove condensation and activate front and rear windscreen heaters.
  • Make sure that you and your passengers are equipped for bad weather. Dress warmly and have a rug or blanket in the boot of the car. Winter sun can be low and cause glare, especially in snowy conditions, so have suitable driving glasses on hand.
  • Drive slowly. Everything takes longer on snow-covered roads. Accelerating, stopping, turning… nothing happens as quickly as on dry pavement. Give yourself time to manoeuvre by driving slowly.
  • Increase following distance. The normal dry road following distance of three to four seconds should be increased to eight to ten seconds in snow and slushy conditions.
  • Watch out for black ice. Remember it may not always be visible. Drive your car with extreme caution. Try not to brake sharply. If you do go into a skid, drive into it, and never brake on ice.
  • If your car gets stuck in snow, shift into a higher gear. Keep your wheels straight and gently go back and forth until you are free. A spade or old sack/rug can help in case you can’t drive straight out.