Be sober and secure on the roads this long weekend

Brake is urging drivers to keep road safety front of mind if they're travelling this Waitangi weekend, with a particular focus on drink-driving and seat belts.

With a number of festivals, concerts and other events taking place over the weekend, many people will be travelling to activities, or to visit family and friends, and the charity is reminding drivers to plan their journeys and prioritise the safety of themselves, their passengers and other road users.

Drink-driving remains one of the biggest killers on our roads. In 2015 alcohol and/or drugs was a factor in 88 fatal and over 1,000 injury crashes, killing 90 people and injuring over 1,500 [1]. Research shows that drinking any amount of alcohol can affect your driving [2].

Brake is encouraging people to plan their journeys and arrange travel before heading out to a festival or concert by taking advantage of public transport if available, booking taxis, or having a sober driver who commits to not drinking alcohol. Friends and family are urged to speak out on the issue too and make sure that designated drivers stay sober to ensure everyone gets home safely after the event.

The charity also says it's disappointed at the increase in road deaths associated with a restraint not being worn, when wearing a seat belt is one of the easiest things drivers and passengers can do to reduce their risk of death and injury in a crash.

Using a three-point seat belt reduces the chance of dying or being seriously injured in a crash by 40-50% [3]. Drivers are responsible for making sure all passengers under the age of 15 are properly restrained, but they should also be ensuring all their passengers buckle up.

Drivers should also make sure any children are in appropriate child restraints. By law children must be in a child restraint until they are 7 years old, but Brake recommends that children stay in a child seat until they are 148cm tall. Adult seat belts are designed to give protection to people taller than that, so until they reach that height, children need a child seat to ensure they are protected.

Caroline Perry, Brake's NZ Director says: "We see the devastating consequences that drink-driving and not wearing seat belts has on families when loved ones are killed or seriously injured. Drink-driving deaths and injuries are cruel and needless, ending and ruining lives and leaving traumatised families to pick up the pieces. We're urging drivers to commit to not drinking any amount of alcohol, and to speak out to others who might be considering drink-driving.

"Putting on your seat belt is one of the simplest things you can do to reduce your risk of death or serious injury in the event of a crash, so it's essential you ensure you and your passengers are wearing them on every trip. We want everyone to get to their destination safely this weekend, so plan your travel, make sure you and your vehicle are secure, take regular breaks, and do everything you can to keep yourself and others safe on the roads."

Facts

  • Drivers with even 20-50mg alcohol per 100ml of blood are at least three times more likely to die in a crash than those with no alcohol in their blood [4].
  • Even small amounts of alcohol affect drivers' reaction times, judgment and co-ordination [5].
  • Alcohol also makes it impossible for drivers to assess their own impairment because it creates a false sense of confidence and means drivers are more inclined to take risks and believe they are in control when they are not [6].
  • Using a child restraint appropriate for your child's height and weight and properly fitted reduces the risk of injury in a crash by 70% compared to an adult seat belt [7].

Read Brake's advice on drink driving.
Read Brake's advice on seat belts.

[1] Alcohol and drugs crash factsheet, Ministry of Transport, 2016 (accessed 25 Jan. 17)

[2] The relationship between serious injury and blood alcohol concentration (BAC) in fatal motor vehicle accidents: BAC = 0.01% is associated with significantly more dangerous accidents than BAC = 0.00%, University of California at San Diego, 2011

[3] The handbook of road safety measures, Elvik R, Vaa T eds, Elsevier, 2004

[4] National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, 2010. Review of effectiveness of laws limiting blood alcohol concentration levels to reduce alcohol-related road injuries and deaths, London: National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence

[5] The relationship between serious injury and blood alcohol concentration (BAC) in fatal motor vehicle accidents: BAC = 0.01% is associated with significantly more dangerous accidents than BAC = 0.00%, University of California at San Diego, 2011

[6] National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, 2010. Review of effectiveness of laws limiting blood alcohol concentration levels to reduce alcohol-related road injuries and deaths, London: National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence

[7] The Handbook of Road Safety Measures, 2009, p. 613

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