United Nations Road Safety Week campaign appeals to NZ drivers to #SlowDown, as survey reveals community concerns about fast traffic

Communities across New Zealand will be calling on drivers to #SlowDown as part of UN Global Road Safety Week 2017 (8-14 May), to help save lives on NZ roads.

One in three fatal crashes in New Zealand involves someone driving too fast [1].

A survey conducted by Brake, the road safety charity shows 78% of people are worried about being hit when out walking or cycling in their area, and 60% say they worry about fast traffic in their community [2].

To mark Road Safety Week, Brake, the road safety charity, Safekids Aotearoa, Ministry of Transport, NZ Police, NZ Transport Agency, Auckland Transport, the Yellow Ribbon Road Safety Alliance, Rural Women New Zealand and other road safety organisations are calling on everyone to pledge to #SlowDown, in line with the UN theme for the Week. They will particularly be reminding drivers to keep well below speed limits around schools and in communities, and to remember the 20km/h limit for passing a school bus. Road Safety Week is kindly sponsored by QBE Insurance.

Across New Zealand more than 700 schools, kindergartens, companies and communities are getting involved in the Week by holding a #SlowDown event, or other awareness-raising activity to get the message across about the horror of road crashes and the part we can all play in making communities safer. (See details below of how to find out what's happening in your area.)

New Zealand's road safety strategy, Safer Journeys, includes safe speeds as one of the four pillars, and Brake will be highlighting the difference that even a small increase in speed can make to the outcome of a crash.

Brake and Safekids Aotearoa are teaming up with Dr Michelle Dickinson (aka Nanogirl), Engineer at the University of Auckland and students from Meadowbank School in a video explaining the science of speed, reaction times and stopping distances. See the video.

Individuals and organisations will be using the official Road Safety Week signboard to make their pledge to #SlowDown and share on social media. School children around the country will be making posters to be displayed outside their school, or creating banners and going on a walk in their community reminding drivers to #SlowDown and look out for kids.

The Yellow Ribbon Road Safety Alliance, a group of organisations committed to raising awareness of road trauma in New Zealand, 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.

This is the sixth Road Safety Week New Zealand coordinated by Brake in collaboration with our partners, and the fourth UN Global Road Safety Week. Figures from the Ministry of Transport 2015 (the latest available) show that:

  • Speeding was a contributing factor in 32% of road deaths, with 101 people killed in speed-related crashes [3].
  • More than half those deaths were children and young people (5 children aged 0-14 and 49 young people aged 15-19) [4].
  • Speeding was a contributing factor in 410 (21%) serious injury crashes, resulting in 496 seriously injured people [5].
  • The total social cost of crashes involving drivers speeding was about $940 million, approximately 25% of the social cost for all injury crashes that year [6].
  • Speeding was a contributing factor in 34% of urban fatal crashes and 30% of open road fatal crashes between 2013-2015 [7].

Speeding around schools is particularly dangerous as it puts children, who are unable to effectively judge vehicle speeds, in danger [8]. Police enforcement figures show the number of speeding offences near schools:

  • In 2016, there were over 6,300 officer issued speed notices, and almost 75,000 speed camera notices for speed offences near schools. They accounted for 9.3% of all speed notices in 2016 [9].

Members of the public can show their support for Road Safety Week by:

Caroline Perry, Brake's NZ director, said: "When drivers use roads without care for others the consequences can be tragic and horrific - people killed and badly injured, lives ruined forever, because of a moment of inattention, impatience or a bad decision. At Brake we witness the suffering that results, through our work supporting people affected by road death and injury. Speed is a factor in all crashes. Whilst it might not have caused the crash, it will help determine the outcome. Even small increases in speed can mean the difference between life and death. That's why, this Road Safety Week, we're asking drivers to pledge to #SlowDown for someone. Whether it's your family, friends, community, or yourself, reduce your speed and help make our roads safer."

Dr Mike Shepherd, Director of Starship Child Health - Medical and Community and Starship Safekids Aotearoa spokesperson, said: "Every year 22 children are killed, and 294 are hospitalised with serious injuries because of a road traffic crash in New Zealand. Speed is at the core of this child injury epidemic that is affecting communities and families across NZ and around the world. A concerted effort between the Government, organisations and communities is needed to stop our children from dying in NZ roads due to speed. Safekids and the World Health Organisation advocate for simple steps to manage speed: introducing more traffic calming features such as speed bumps, traffic signs, road markings and low-speed zones; establishing and enforcing lower speed limits, especially in school zones; install technologies in vehicles such as automatic emergency breaking (AEB); and most important of all, make drivers realise that speed kills."

Harry Wilson, Director safety and environment, NZ Transport Agency said: "Everyone makes mistakes when driving, but a simple mistake doesn't need to result in loss of life or limb. The faster you drive, the more likely you are to crash, and speed affects the outcome of every crash. Road Safety Week is a timely reminder for all of us to slow down and keep safe on the roads."

Superintendent Steve Greally, National Road Policing Manager, NZ Police said: "We are all human, so mistakes on the road are going to happen. Sure - most of the time when we drive nothing happens, but how well prepared are we if something does? While you might not be at fault, the speed you choose to drive at determines the outcome of any crash. Safe speeds are essential for this reason, you can't control the behaviour of other road users but you can control your own. As a safe driver, you'll have to look out for changes in traffic, road and weather conditions, and reduce your speed accordingly. Also remember to look out for our vulnerable road users, like cyclists, pedestrians and motorcyclists. Increased speed, regardless of vehicle type, puts vulnerable road users at greater risk. For them, even a small reduction in vehicle speed could save their life."

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. 328 lives were lost last year as we got to our jobs, travel and families. The Yellow Ribbon symbolises getting home safely. 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. We would like to encourage all New Zealanders to wear yellow this week in support of this and take a moment to think about one situation while driving where you could pledge to slow down."

Rural Women New Zealand (RWNZ) National President, Fiona Gower said: "With school buses back on the roads, we're reminding drivers to obey the 20km/h speed limit. It is very important in all communities, particularly in rural areas, that drivers are aware of the speed rule and drive at a safe speed limit of 20km/h when passing a stopped school bus."

Kathryn King, Walking Cycling and Safety Manager at Auckland Transport said: "Auckland Transport is supporting Brake with Road Safety Week by encouraging schools to get involved. Our team are looking forward to assisting schools with their road safety activities during the week."

Bill Donovan, General Manager - New Zealand Operations at QBE Insurance said: "At QBE, we firmly believe 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've supported Brake and Road Safety Week for six years. It's an initiative to encourage commitment - both personal and corporate - to road safety, and we are very pleased to be part of this community initiative."

Filming, photo and interview opportunities
Activities are taking place around the country throughout Road Safety Week, with some open to media to attend for interviews, filming and photos.
View our list of selected activities taking place in Road Safety Week. (These will continue to be added to prior to, and throughout, Road Safety Week).
To find out more, or attend activities in your area, contact Caroline Perry on 021 407 953 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

In Auckland, media are invited to attend and conduct filming, interviews and take photographs at:

Tuesday 9 May, 10.30am, Royal Oak Intermediate School
Students at the school will be measuring out stopping distances at different speeds, highlighting the importance of slowing down in communities.
Students, Brake and other road safety representatives will hold a photo call to share #SlowDown messages on Road Safety Week signboards.
Students will display #SlowDown posters as part of their Road Safety Week competition.
There will be an assembly teaching the students about road safety with their community constable, Brake, Safekids and others.

Wednesday 10 May, 9.30am-2pm, Trusts Arena, Henderson
A RYDA road safety programme is taking place with Rutherford College, where Year 12 students will learn about a number of road safety issues, including speed, through a series of workshops. Students will all be given a Yellow Ribbon pin to wear and asked to pledge to slow down for one situation they may be faced with whether that's personally driving or speaking up as a passenger. Rutherford College will also be presented with a special certificate to celebrate the 500,000th student to have attended RYDA since it started 15 years ago in Australia and New Zealand

Friday 12 May, 8am, Sunnybrae Normal School
The school is holding a Bright Walk to school. Students will dress brightly to remind drivers to #SlowDown and look out for children on foot, bike and scooter. The students will be carrying signboards and the Road Safety Week banner with #SlowDown messages.

Case studies
Karen Gibbons, whose son Ryan, 19, was killed in a crash north of Auckland, is sharing her story as part of Road Safety Week.

We also have a number of other families affected by road crashes around the country that are available for interview. To arrange interviews with any of our volunteers, please contact Brake on the details below.

Facts on speed
Driving is the most dangerous thing most of us do on a regular basis: you're operating a potentially dangerous machine in an unpredictable, public environment, so it requires full concentration at all times.

Speed is a critical factor in all road crashes and casualties. It is estimated that for every 1mph (2km/h) reduction in average speeds, crash rates fall by an average of 5% [10].

See Brake's stopping distances illustration.
See Brake's website for speed facts.

Key advice to help you #SlowDown

  • On all roads, keep well below speed limits - it's a limit not a target.
  • Slow down in school zones, around road works, and in communities at all times.
  • Passing school buses: either way its 20km/h.
  • Come to a complete stop at intersections and double check for children.
  • Slow down and double check for people at pedestrian crossings, particularly in school zones.

See Brake's driver advice on speed.

To find out more or take part in Road Safety Week, go to www.roadsafetyweek.org.nz

For media queries, or to arrange interviews with Brake, volunteers, or any supporters, contact Caroline Perry on 021 407 953 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

End notes:
[1] Speed: crash facts, Ministry of Transport, 2016
[2] Brake’s family safety survey, 370 respondents, 2017
[3] Speed: crash facts, Ministry of Transport, 2016
[4] ibid
[5] ibid
[6] ibid
[7] ibid
[8] Traffic at 30mph is too fast for children’s visual capabilities, University of Royal Holloway, London, 2010
[9] Figures from NZ Police, 2016
[10] Speed, Speed Limits and Accidents, Transport Research Laboratory, 1994

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