Ensuring people stay safe and alert on the roads was a focus of a New Zealand Police road policing team Driver Reviver initiative in Tarras for the Easter weekend.
Sergeant Bruce Martin, of Alexandra, said about 900 people passed through a ‘‘booze bus’’ checkpoint in Tarras on Thursday afternoon and evening at the beginning of the long weekend holiday.
The focus was not just on drink-driving, it was also encouraging people to rest during long journeys.
Police from the Central Otago road policing team as well as Queenstown’s impairment team took part in the fatigue stop at Tarras.
‘‘A lot of people travel from Canterbury going towards Wanaka and Queenstown for the Easter holiday.’’
The aim was to remind people to pull over on the side of the road, ‘‘to have a bit of a refresh’’.
‘‘Because quite often they’ve come over the Lindis Pass, they have been concentrating a bit harder because they are not straight roads,’’ Sgt Martin said.
Having a short break of even five or 10 minutes could make all the difference to to people’s concentration levels.
‘‘Just get out, stretch your legs, and basically have a bit of a refill.’’
People could often end up having a crash only 15km or 20km from their destination, ‘‘because they have stopped concentrating’’, Sgt Martin said.
The Alexandra Lions Club provided free water bottles and hot dogs for weary travellers.
Drivers were given a breath test and alcohol was detected on four people who were processed at the booze bus for a further test.
Three recorded a test just under the 250mcg of alcohol per litre of breath limit for drivers over 20.
One had an alcohol level of 350mcg per litre of breath, and was given an infringement notice, Sgt Martin said.
In a statement released on Tuesday, National Road Policing Centre director Superintendent Steve Greally said New Zealand had had a tragic Easter weekend on its roads, and police extended their sympathies to the families and friends of the eight people who died this holiday period.
‘‘Any number of deaths is too many, but this is the highest number of deaths for the Easter holiday period in more than a decade, which is an unacceptable outcome.’’
Deaths on the road were preventable and police reminded everyone to slow down, drive free from the effects of alcohol, drugs and fatigue, wear a seatbelt, and minimise distractions, he said.