Fasten seatbelt, shut off your mobile and drive safely

Road Safety Week starts today

Auckland, May 7, 2018

Communities across New Zealand will be calling on drivers to wear a seat belt and put down their phones when at the wheel as part of Road Safety Week 2018 (Monday, May 7 to Sunday, May 13, 2018), to help reduce the number of deaths and serious injuries on roads.

‘Brake,’ the Road Safety Charity, who coordinates the Week, says that drivers are still not getting the message about the dangers of using a phone, with 38% of drivers admitting to using a phone to text at the wheel, and 22% admitting to making calls on a hand-held phone, despite both those activities being against the law.

Drivers who use a phone to make a call are four times more likely to be in a crash resulting in injury than a driver who is not distracted.

Belt on, Phone Off

The official theme of the week is ‘Belt on, Phone off, Make it a habit.’

Everyone is being urged to ensure that they always wear a seat belt, or use an appropriate child seat, on every journey.

On an average over the last decade, 26% of vehicle occupants who died in crashes were not wearing a seat belt. In 2016, 93 people killed on the road were not wearing a seat belt, almost a third of all road deaths.

Road Safety Week was launched by Associate Minister of Transport Julie Anne Genter along with Brake, sponsors QBE Insurance and New Zealand Transport Agency, New Zealand Police, St John, Auckland Transport and the Yellow Ribbon Road Safety Alliance.

The launch included demonstrations on the dangers of driver distractions and the importance of using child seats when carrying children in vehicles. More than 850 schools, kindergartens, companies and communities are getting involved in the week around the country.

The Safety Alliance

The Yellow Ribbon Road Safety Alliance, a group of organisations committed to raising awareness of road trauma, is promoting use of the colour yellow to highlight road safety and show a personal commitment to safer roads, by distributing yellow ribbons and reaching out to government and businesses to light buildings in yellow during Road Safety Week.

Dangerous temptations

Caroline Perry, Brake’s New Zealand Director, said: “We live in an age when being constantly connected is normal and we find it hard to put down our smartphone, even for a minute. While there are enormous benefits to this technology, it is also posing dangerous temptations to drivers to divert their concentration away from the critical task at hand, often putting our most vulnerable road users in danger. Wearing a seat belt is one of the simplest things you can do to protect yourself in the event of a crash. We know whilst most people do put their belt on, there are still some drivers and passengers who choose not to, and that significantly increases your risk of death or serious injury in a crash. Our message is simple, make putting your seat belt on, and your phone off a habit every time you drive.”

High Road tolls

Harry Wilson, Safety and Environment Director, New Zealand Transport Agency said: “Last year more people were killed on our roads than any year since 2010 and many more were left with life-long injuries. These tragedies impact not only those killed or injured, but their friends and family as well. We can all do our part to keep ourselves, our friends and family safe on our roads. Simple changes like putting your phone away and wearing your seat belt make a very real difference. Being properly restrained reduces your chance of death or serious injury in a crash by 60% in the front seat and 44% in the back seat.”

Public cooperation imperative

Inspector Peter McKennie, Manager (Operations), Road Policing said: “Police wants to keep people safe on our roads. But we need everybody’s help to achieve that. Police puts a lot of effort into preventing the four main behaviours that contribute to death and serious injury on our roads. These are people not wearing seatbelts, child restraints, or helmets; impaired driving (such as fatigue, drugs, or alcohol); driving distracted (such as using a cell phone); and speed – both in excess of the limit and too fast for the conditions. We are happy to support the Road Safety Week. We know seatbelts save lives. About one third of people who die on our roads are not wearing seatbelts. And when you are the driver, your focus should be on driving, nothing else. It is every driver’s responsibility to keep themselves, their passengers, and other road users safe. So, let us buckle up and focus on the road.”

Some activities

Wednesday May 9, at 10 am at CMKA Settlement Road, Papakura, Auckland: Young children (age 2-4) will be taking part in a ‘Beep, Beep!’ Day, learning basic road safety messages such as holding hands and sitting in a child seat.

Friday May 11, from 930 am to 2 pm, Trusts Arena, Auckland: A ‘Rotary Youth Driver Awareness’ (RYDA) Road Safety Programme will be held with Rutherford College, where Year 12 students will learn about a number of road safety issues, including distractions, through a series of workshops.

Some Quotes

Road Safety Education

Maria Lovelock, Programme Manager of Road Safety Education (RSE) and member of the Yellow Ribbon Road Safety Alliance said: “The Alliance believes that together we can all make a difference and change our road safety culture across New Zealand. As a society, we need to change our mindsets about accepting a toll for using our roads and all pull together to drive more carefully and socially. Even the smallest decisions like choosing to turn your phone off or wearing your seatbelt while driving can improve our road trauma outcomes and ensure we all come home safely. We would like to encourage all New Zealanders to wear yellow this week and take the pledge to make putting your seatbelt on and your phone off a habit you do when you get behind the wheel.”

St John

Tony Devanney, St John Assistant Director of Operations (Field Operations) said: “St John ambulance attends almost 20,000 road crashes each year and a lot of what we see is due to driver inattention or impatience. Time and time again we see children in vehicles either not belted in, in poorly fitted car seats or with no car seats at all – often with devastating impacts on friends and families. We are fully behind Road Safety Week to encourage everyone to practise good road safety habits and help keep Kiwis safer on our roads.”

Auckland Transport

Claire Dixon, Community Transport Manager at Auckland Transport said: “Improving road safety is a major focus for Auckland Transport. Our close relationship with Brake shows the importance of working together to ensure improvements and encourage communities to take action, no matter how big or small, to make their roads safer. Auckland Transport are proud to work in partnership alongside Brake and promote this year’s theme, “Belt on. Phone off. Make it a habit.”

QBE Insurance

Bill Donovan, General Manager, New Zealand Operations, QBE Insurance said: “At QBE, we firmly believe that we have a responsibility to be a good corporate citizen in the communities in which we operate. This is one of the reasons that we have supported Brake and Road Safety Week for seven years. It is an initiative to encourage commitment both personal and corporate – to road safety, and we are very pleased to be part of this community initiative.”

About Brake New Zealand

Brake is an international road safety charity. Its New Zealand division promotes road safety and campaigns against the carnage on New Zealand roads. It is also fundraising to improve support for families bereaved and injured in road crashes.

To support Brake, please visit www.brake.org.nz.

Support books for children and adults bereaved in road crashes are available free to families. Please call 021-407953 or email brakecharity@gmail.com.

Brake was established founded in the UK in 1995. It now has domestic operations in the UK and New Zealand, and works globally to promote action on road safety.

For more information about the Road Safety Week, please visit www.roadsafetyweek.org.nz.

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Road crashes are not accidents; they are devastating and preventable events, not chance mishaps. Calling them accidents undermines work to make roads safer, and can cause insult to families whose lives have been torn apart by needless casualties.

Source: Brake New Zealand Press Release

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