During the winter, driving in New Zealand can be dangerous. This is due to fog, rain and early sunsets. Learn how to drive safely in extreme winter weather to avoid accidents.

Driving in heavy rain.

driving rainy road

Rain can make the road slippery as well as impair your vision. It is important that when you are driving in heavy rain, you take the following precautions:

  • Avoid heavy braking – when the road is slippery, your vehicle’s traction is reduced. If you brake heavily, you increase the risk of losing control of your vehicle.
  • Stay five seconds behind the vehicle in front of you – It is important that you are able to stop in time to prevent collisions. Give other vehicles space to reduce risk.
  • Take turns slowly – This will reduce the risk of you losing control of the vehicle while turning.
  • Use your headlights – even during the day, you should use your headlights in rainy weather. This will allow other vehicles to clearly see you as well as improve your vision of the road in front of you.
  • Take your time – the speed limits we see on the road are designed for ideal conditions. The quicker you drive in wet weather, the harder it becomes to control your vehicle. Taking your time while driving in heavy rain will significantly reduce the risk of an accident.

Prepare your car for rainy weather by making sure your headlights, windshield wipers and demisters are all in working condition. These will allow you to clearly see your surroundings.


Driving in fog.

driving in foggy weather

Foggy weather can reduce your field of vision while driving. If you have to drive through dense fog, you should keep these tips in mind:

  • Take your time – It is important to drive at a safe comfortable pace so that you can anticipate turns, hazards and other vehicles on the road.
  • Drive with low beams rather than high beams – high beams will actually reduce your field of vision. This is due to the fog reflecting light back towards your car.
  • Use the road’s centre line as a guide – This will allow you to anticipate turns in the road.
  • Use your car’s demisters to reduce the build up of condensation on the windscreen.

If you have little or no visibility, pull over to the side of the road. Try to get as far away from incoming traffic as possible. If this isn’t possible, turn your hazard lights on to alert other cars.

Be sure to indicate when pulling over as another vehicle may be using your tail lights to guide their vehicle.


Driving in heavy winds.

  • Keep a firm grip on your steering wheel with all times. Use two hands.
  • Be cautious around large vehicles. The wind may cause them to move out of their lane.
  • Heavy vehicles such as trucks and vans are more prone to wind interference. If you have to drive your large vehicle in severe wind, reduce your speed and take corners slowly.
  • Be prepared for a sudden gust of wind when exiting an area sheltered by trees, cliffs, etc.
  • If you are towing a trailer, caravan or other large vehicle, you should postpone your journey until the wind calms down or stops.