Buckle up and put your phone down this Road Safety Week

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 (7-13 May), to help reduce the number of deaths and serious injuries on roads.

Brake, the road safety charity, who coordinates the week says 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 [1]. 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 isn't distracted [2].

The official theme of the week is Belt on, Phone off - Make it a habit, and everyone is also being urged to ensure they always wear a seat belt, or use an appropriate child seat, on every journey. On average over the last decade, 26% of vehicle occupants who died in crashes were not wearing a seat belt [3]. In 2016, 93 people killed on the road weren't wearing a seat belt, almost a third of all road deaths.

Road Safety Week was launched by the Associate Minister of Transport, Hon Julie Anne Genter, along with Brake, sponsors QBE Insurance and the NZ Transport Agency, NZ 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 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.

Caroline Perry, Brake's NZ 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's 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."

Harry Wilson, Safety and Environment Director, NZ 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 per cent in the front seat and 44 per cent in the back seat."

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 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're 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's buckle up and focus on road."

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..

Wednesday 9 May, 10am, 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.

Wednesday 9 May, 10am, Shirley First Learners, Christchurch
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, and walking in the local community to learn about using roads safely.

Wednesday 9 May, 9.30am-2pm, Southwards Car Museum, Paraparaumu
A RYDA road safety programme is taking place with Paraparaumu College, where Year 12 students will learn about a number of road safety issues, including distractions, through a series of workshops.

Friday 11 May, 9.30am-2pm, Trusts Arena, Auckland
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 distractions, through a series of workshops.

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. Ryan was a passenger in the car and wasn't wearing a seat belt when it crashed.

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.

Road Safety Week resources
Brake has released two interactive resources to communicate key messages around seat belts and distractions. The Seat Belt Challenge, aimed at children, is a fun game placing items in the correct place in the car. Driven to distraction aims to raise awareness of the types of distraction we all face when we're on the road, and is aimed at everyone. Anyone can also show their support for the week by downloading the official signboard, writing their road safety message, taking a photo of it and posting it to social media.

Quotes from supporting organisations

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."

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're fully behind Road Safety Week to encourage everyone to practise good road safety habits and help keep Kiwis safer on our roads."

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'"

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 seven 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."

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

End notes:
[1] 2016 Public attitudes to road safety survey, Ministry of Transport
[2] Role of mobile phones in motor vehicle crashes resulting in hospital attendance: a case-crossover study, University of Western Australia, 2005
[3] Vehicle occupants not wearing a seatbelt – an analysis of fatalities and traffic offences in New Zealand, Automobile Association, 2018

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