Stay alert and secure on the roads this weekend

Brake is urging drivers to keep road safety front of mind if they're travelling this Waitangi weekend, with a particular focus on fatigue 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.

With ex-cyclone Fehi also affecting NZ, the charity is reminding drivers to drive to the conditions, slow down, and increase the gap to the vehicle in front. Stopping distances are at least double in wet weather.

Brake urges people to plan their journeys, including taking regular breaks on long trips. Fatigue is a factor in around 11% of road deaths [1]. In 2016, 36 people were killed and 160 people seriously injured in fatigue-related crashes [2].

Caroline Perry, Brake's NZ Director says: "We see the devastating consequences that fatigue has on families when loved ones are killed or seriously injured. Driving requires 100% of your concentration and it's essential you take regular breaks on long journeys. Use it as an opportunity to stop at a beauty spot or viewpoint, grab a coffee or let the kids run around, and then continue your journey refreshed.

The charity is also reminding everyone to wear a seatbelt when in a vehicle. Wearing a seatbelt 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. 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 [4].

Ms Perry says: "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."

Road Safety Week 2018 takes place 7-13 May and one of its focuses will be seatbelts and child restraints. To find out more and sign up to take part in the week, go to www.roadsafetyweek.org.nz.

Read Brake's advice on fatigue.
Read Brake's advice on seatbelts.

[1] Fatigue crash factsheet, Ministry of Transport, 2017 (accessed 1 Feb. 18)

[2] ibid

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

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

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